The jury in the trial of Aaron Brady heard from two witnesses in New York who said that Brady had made admissions to them that he had shot a garda, but the jury didn't know that there were five other people also originally scheduled to give similar evidence, writes Barry Cummins.

At the start of the trial, seven people were on the list of proposed witnesses who had given statements to gardaí saying they had heard Brady make confessions in their presence in New York.

Eventually, only two of those seven witnesses gave evidence.

One of those was Molly Staunton, who said she had heard Brady say something like "he had shot a cop in Ireland". She said it was in 2016 that she heard Brady make the confession in an apartment in Woodlawn, New York, that he shared with Molly’s then boyfriend and another man.

The other witness who appeared by video link from New York to give evidence was Daniel Cahill who said that Brady had confessed in his presence on three occasions. Originally from Dublin, Daniel Cahill said two of the confessions he heard occurred at a bar in which Cahill was working, and the third confession occurred at a house party.

The evidence from Molly Staunton and Daniel Cahill outlined how Brady made confessions when he was angry and when he was morose, when he was aggressive, and when he was feeling sorry for himself.

The prosecution had suggested to the jury that Brady wore the murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe like a "badge of honour" when he was ingratiating himself with particular people in the Irish-American community in the Bronx.

It was only when Brady was deported from the United States on immigration offences in 2017 that a number of people gave statements to gardaí. Officers travelled to New York from Ireland and took statements from a number of people, many of them Irish people who had moved to the US, at a police station in Yonkers.

One man, originally from Co Armagh, told gardaí that a man named Brady had made a self-incriminating comment at a bar. The witness didn't know Aaron Brady but did identify him in a photograph later shown to him. This witness was willing to give evidence by video link in the recent trial. However, the trial Judge, Mr Justice Michael White, ruled that the evidence of this particular witness was inadmissible.

Four other men were on a list of proposed witnesses, all of whom had originally said Aaron Brady had made confessions in their presence.

But when it came to the time of the trial, two of those witnesses living in the US indicated they did not wish to give evidence, and they were never called by the prosecution. Another of the men could not be found; it is believed he may now be somewhere in Northern Ireland.

And the prosecution decided not to call a fourth man, now living back in Ireland, who also had originally said he had heard an admission from Aaron Brady in New York.

The two witnesses who did give evidence of confessions both gave evidence by video link from New York. Both Molly Staunton and Daniel Cahill had been prepared to travel to Ireland to give evidence, but the Covid-19 pandemic meant that they could not leave New York.

The jury had heard some detail of Aaron Brady’s previous conviction for dangerously driving a stolen car in Dundalk in October 2011, but the jury didn't hear any detail of the stolen vehicle, which gave a hint to organised crime.

Brady was not convicted of stealing the car, merely of driving it. The Volkswagen Golf had been stolen in what is known as a 'creeper burglary' in Cootehill, Co Cavan, on 22 September 2011. A thief broke into a home and stole the car keys and made off with the car before anyone heard a thing.

What is particularly interesting is that when Brady was arrested in the stolen car in Dundalk on 2 October 2011, the vehicle was found to have been fitted with false registration plates from a car which had been stolen from Stockport in England in July of that year.

Brady was only 19 at the time of the dangerous driving incident in Dundalk in 2011.

How he came to be behind the wheel of a car which was fitted with false plates from a burglary in another country was never explained, but it does give a very strong hint to organised crime.

Even at that age Brady 'knew people', he knew serious criminals. Fifteen months later he was part of the five man gang to strike at Lordship with such devastating consequences.