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Evidence heard State witness in Jim Mansfield jnr trial gave 16 statements to the Criminal Assets Bureau


Jim Mansfield, pictured at the Criminal Courts of Justice (CCJ) on Parkgate Street in Dublin

Jim Mansfield, pictured at the Criminal Courts of Justice (CCJ) on Parkgate Street in Dublin

Jim Mansfield, pictured at the Criminal Courts of Justice (CCJ) on Parkgate Street in Dublin

The state witness in the kidnap case against Jim Mansfield Jnr has given 16 statements to the Criminal Assets Bureau centred on events between 2010 and 2015.

Martin Byrne, the former head of security at City West Hotel, gave the statements months after the January 2015 Garda raids on properties connected to Mansfield including Finnstown House Hotel and the family home, stately Tasaggart House.

Byrne is in the Witness Protection Programme and giving evidence about an alleged kidnap ordeal he claims he underwent after Mansfield Jnr delivered him to a meeting with convicted murderer Declan ‘Wacker’ Duffy, Border Fox Dessie O’Hare and five other men.

Mansfield Jnr has denied kidnap charges before the Special Criminal Court where Byrne has given sensational evidence involving protection money, threats and a variety of dissident groups he says were on the payroll of Mansfield Jnr as he tried to wrestle assets the family once owned.

Under cross examination Byrne said he has told CAB about a number of meetings he says took place after receivers took over the Mansfield empire when it collapsed owing over euro 200 million to the Bank of Scotland in 2011.

He had told the court that the late Mansfield Snr used an old friend, Dundalk businessman Kevin McGeogh to buy back some of his former estate using ‘ransom strips’ the receivers needed to ensure a sale of City West.

McGeogh, it was claimed, got financial backing from Newry builder Gerard McGreevy but he claims that relations between the duo and Mansfield Jnr soured.

In evidence to the Special Criminal Court Mr Byrne has described a number of meetings, some of which he says were attended by members of the New IRA and the INLA as complex negotiations for the ‘handover’ of Finnstown House Hotel and a site known as Paddy Reilly’s Field turned nasty.

He has said disputes arose over the handover of the properties and the sale of townhouses at Saggart Court Lodge which he claims had been originally hammered out between his father Jim Mansfield Snr and his pal McGeogh.

Under cross examination it emerged yesterday that Mr Byrne, who the state say was kidnapped and beaten after he was handed over to an INLA terror mob by Mansfield Jnr, has given a series of statements to the Bureau in relation to financial dealings he claims went on over a period of five years.

Yesterday Mr Byrne claimed that in the course of one meeting McGreevy wanted to be paid €2.5 million for Finnstown House Hotel and wanted half in cash.

He claimed that €1.25 million of that money was put up by Vincent Cosgrave, the hotelier father in law of Mansfield Jnr.

Last week, in his evidence, Mr Byrne said Cosgrave was putting pressure on Mansfield Snr to get Paddy Reilly’s field back from McGreevy and had asked him to meet with the INLA.

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Counsel for the Defence Bernard Condon repeatedly put it to Mr Byrne that he was lying and giving false testimony but the witness disagreed.

He quizzed him in relation to details of meetings held and suggested he had related places and sequence of events differently in court than he had in 2015 when he gave his original statement.

Mr Byrne conceded that he could be mixed up about places and the sequence of meetings but not about what went on at them.

“I am telling the truth and I have said on numerous occasions that there were multiple meetings that I attended,” he said. “There were 20, 25 meetings over a short period of time.”

In January 2015 armed gardai were involved in a huge series of raids on Mansfield linked properties. Detectives from the Organised Crime Unit and members of the Criminal Assets Bureau carried out the searches.

In his evidence last week Mr Byrne referred to the raids and said that after they happened Mansfield Jnr's financial advisor James 'The Fat Man' O'Gorman moved his offices out of the family home at Tasaggart House.

He said that there were plans for him to move out of the house where he was living on the grounds of the property too.

The Fat Man is a convicted fraudster from Cork who the court heard had been employed by Mansfield Jnr to help raise funds to buy back some of the family assets.

The trial continues.

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