The wife of former solicitor Michael Lynn has told his multi-million euro theft trial that she did not know if he was “dead or alive” for five days after he entered a Brazilian prison.
Brid Murphy was in the witness box on day 47 of the trial of her husband, who is accused of the stealing approximately €27 million from seven financial institutions.
Mr Lynn (53) of Millbrook Court, Red Cross, Co Wicklow has pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of theft in Dublin between October 23rd, 2006 and April 20th, 2007.
Ms Murphy told the court how she first met Mr Lynn in 2000 in Portobello after a match.
They once again met in 2004 and, after three months of dating, he proposed marriage. She was working as an ICU nurse in St Vincent’s Hospital in south Dublin at the time and the couple began living in a house directly across from the hospital.
Ms Murphy told the court that in 2007 the Glen Lion property in Howth was purchased, but they never lived there.
When asked if she had met any bankers regarding the purchase of the property, she replied “no” and that her only involvement was signing the ACC mortgage paperwork that was left on the kitchen table when she arrived home from work one evening.
The court heard that Ms Murphy was brought to the High Court in 2008 by ACC bank regarding the Glen Lion property.
As a result, ACC bank received the full amount of the loan issued, and this case was closed. At the same time, Bank of Scotland had also brought a court proceeding against Ms Murphy, which was settled.
Ms Murphy told the court that her husband was based in Portugal at this time and that she would fly over and back to him. She had taken a career break to care for her sick father, who had undergone multiple surgeries for bowel cancer.
First Brazil trip
Paul Comiskey O’Keeffe, BL, defending, asked Ms Murphy when had she first travelled to Brazil with Mr Lynn. Ms Murphy said she travelled with Mr Lynn and another named man in 2005 for property purposes. They spent approximately 10 days in Brazil before returning home.
In 2007 the couple again travelled to Brazil for property purposes. Mr Lynn travelled to Brazil on multiple other occasions without Ms Murphy.
Counsel asked Ms Murphy if there were any other reasons other than property that the couple travelled to Brazil for. Ms Murphy said that at the age of 26, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and underwent treatment.
She said both her and her husband wanted children, but they were unsuccessful after five years of treatment, including IVF and IUI.
After her father died, the couple travelled to Brazil to meet with a doctor who had been recommended to them by friends in Portugal. In October 2010, after the first visit with the doctor, Ms Murphy became pregnant.
Over the next nine months, the couple made many trips from their home in Portugal to Brazil for pregnancy check-ups and treatment. Then, in August 2011, Ms Murphy gave birth to their first child.
Counsel asked the witness if during this time when they were living in Brazil with their young child, were they trying to evade the police? She stated no and said, “we were travelling on our passports, we initially had a six-month holiday visa, and once that was due to expire, we applied for a new visa”.
She told the court that documents such as proof of address, utility bills, and identification were required to get the new visa. In addition, an unannounced police visit to their home also took place as part of the visa process, she said.
In August 2013, Ms Murphy was seven months pregnant with her second child when Mr Lynn was arrested. He was taken into custody by five police officers, and several hours later, she was asked to attend the police station where Mr Lynn was being held.
The police stood Mr Lynn in front of her and told her: "Look, he wasn’t beaten here". He was then taken away in a car, and she did not hear from him for five days.
“For five days I didn’t know if he was dead or alive”, said Ms Murphy.
When Ms Murphy was allowed to visit her husband in prison, she saw the prison guards standing in towers with guns, saying “they do not enter the prison as they are afraid of the prisoners”.
Visiting arrangements at the prison were strict, with wives and girlfriends allowed to visit on Saturdays and parents of the prisoners allowed to visit on Sundays. In addition, once a month, children over the age of one could visit the prison.
Ms Murphy was allowed to bring five kilograms of food into the prison per week for her husband. However, half of this food had to be handed over to the “Chaveiro” as a form of prison tax.
During Mr Lynn’s time in prison, he was allowed conjugal visits with his wife. Mr Lynn and his wife had two more children during his time in prison.
The court heard that Mr Lynn became sick while in prison, and Ms Murphy contacted the then Irish Ambassador to Brazil, Frank Sheridan, who said he would contact the consulate in Dublin and see if they could assist in getting Mr Lynn admitted to hospital.
Ms Murphy said that the following day Mr Sheridan told her that help could not be offered.
Mr Comiskey O’Keeffe asked Ms Murphy how, after returning to Ireland with their four children, they have managed financially. She said that they receive social welfare payments and that their families are also supporting them.
Patrick McGrath SC, prosecuting, had no questions for Ms Murphy. The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury.