Transcripts from the trial of Aaron Brady have been posted on Facebook by his father as part of a campaign to free the garda killer, despite a court order that they should not be further shared without permission.
Lawyers for Brady told the Court of Appeal on Friday morning that the transcripts should not have been shared online and assured the court they will be removed from the social media site by the “close of the day”.
When Court President Mr Justice George Birmingham ordered last July that the transcripts be issued to lawyers on both sides, he stated that he was doing so “on the basis that they are for the appellant's use and should not be further distributed without the permission of the court”.
However, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) later raised concerns that the material had been made public after it was posted on Facebook along with “dubious” commentary.
At a short hearing today, Lorcan Staines SC, for the DPP, told Mr Justice Birmingham that the transcripts had been shared on the social networking service by the accused’s father, Tony Brady, after “all the material had been released by this court”.
Mr Staines said there was a particular concern regarding the transcript of the cross-examination of Aaron Brady which was posted on Facebook by Tony Brady.
Michael O’Higgins SC, for Aaron Brady, told the court he could not speak for Tony Brady but said the material in question had been provided to the defence by the prosecution.
“There were special arrangements for disclosure with full co-operation of the prosecution,” he explained.
“It is against that background that the transcripts were made available to him [Tony Brady].”
Mr O’Higgins also said he accepted that the trial material should not have been posted on Facebook.
“I am told the offending Facebook post will be removed by the close of the day,” Mr O’Higgins informed the court.
Mr Justice Birmingham said that in “the ordinary course of events” appellants were granted access to the transcripts from their trial, but the issue in this instance was what had happened to the material thereafter.
The case was adjourned until July 1st.
Last July, the DPP told the same court it was concerned that a campaign on behalf of Aaron Brady – who was convicted of murder after he fatally shot Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe at Bellurgan, Co Louth, on January 25th, 2013 – had released the transcripts and other trial materials on social media along with "dubious" commentary that could be a contempt of court.
Brendan Grehan SC, for the DPP, asked the court to make an order that transcripts released for Aaron Brady's upcoming appeal should not be used for any other purpose.
Mr Grehan said the DPP was anxious that the transcripts be released to Aaron Brady's legal team so that the appeal can go ahead as soon as possible.
He added there was an "issue concerning matters already published on social media" and the DPP was concerned that campaigners on behalf of Brady had previously promised that transcripts of the trial "would be made available to anyone who wants them".
He said the trial materials already published on social media were accompanied by "commentary of a dubious nature which could possibly be a contempt of court".
Mr O'Higgins said neither his client nor his lawyers would make the transcripts available to anyone else.
Aaron Brady (31), whose last address was New Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, was found guilty of the murder of Det Gda Donohoe by an 11-to-one majority verdict at the Central Criminal Court on August 11th, 2020.
The father-of-one was sentenced to the mandatory term for murder of life imprisonment.
As the accused had been found guilty of murdering a garda acting in accordance with his duty, trial judge Mr Justice Michael White ordered that he serve a minimum of 40 years.
Aaron Brady was also sentenced to 14 years for the robbery of €7,000 – a sentence that will run concurrently with the life sentence – at Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgen, Co Louth on January 25th, 2013.
Aaron Brady lodged his appeal against conviction in October 2020.