Two men have gone on trial at the Special Criminal Court accused of a credit union robbery ten years ago in which a detective garda was shot dead.

Brendan Treanor, 34 of Castletown Road, Dundalk, Co Louth and James Flynn, 32, from Raven's Glen in Newry, Co Down are charged with conspiracy in connection with a series of what were described as "creeper burglaries" between 11 September 2012 and 23 January 2013, in which cars were stolen from houses while the householders were asleep.

They are also each charged with stealing €7,000 in cash and cheques at Lordship Credit Union, Bellurgan, Co Louth on 25 January 2013.

The prosecution case is that a car stolen in the last of the burglaries was "instrumental" in the robbery at the credit union.

Mr Treanor and Mr Flynn have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The two men are accused of conspiring with each other and with 31-year-old Aaron Brady and others to carry out the burglaries.

Brady, formerly of New Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, was previously found guilty of the Lordship robbery and of murdering Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe and is serving a 40-year prison sentence.

James Flynn has pleaded not guilty to the charges

Prosecuting counsel Lorcan Staines said it was the prosecution case that a group of young men agreed together to engage in these burglaries in various houses throughout Ireland.

He said these burglaries were known as "creeper burglaries".

They involved the individuals going to a house where there was a car of interest parked outside, gaining entry to the house by popping the lock without waking the owners, taking the keys and stealing the car.

Mr Staines said the burglaries took place over a number of months beginning on 11 September 2012 and ending on 23 January 2013.

He told the court a Volkswagen Passat stolen in Clogherhead on 23 January was used two days later by the raiders of Lordship Credit Union to block the entrance and exit of the credit union, blocking in staff members and the gardaí accompanying a convoy of vehicles carrying cash.

He said the stealing of that vehicle was instrumental in the robbery.

Mr Staines said five people were involved in the robbery - one of whom was driving the stolen Passat.

Cheques and €7,000 in cash were stolen and one of the raiders shot Detective Garda Donohoe in the head with a shotgun from very short range, instantly killing him.

He noted that neither Mr Treanor nor Mr Flynn were charged with murder. Mr Treanor was 24 at the time and Mr Flynn was 22.

Brendan Treanor denies the charges

Mr Staines said the prosecution case was that there was "fluidity" in the conspiracy in relation to the people involved.

He said the prosecution accepted that James Flynn was in America in September and October 2012.

But he said Mr Flynn returned to Ireland in November 2012 and became an "integral part" of the conspiracy, which continued up until the murder of Garda Donohoe.

Mr Staines said the murder, and the very significant garda investigation that followed, ultimately caused the conspiracy to end.

Brady and Mr Flynn left Ireland for America afterwards and lived together there, he told the court.

Mr Staines told the three judges, the prosecution case was based on circumstantial evidence and would ultimately stand or fall on the strength of many fine threads of evidence taken together.

He outlined the evidence intended to be called by the prosecution during the trial, including details of phone contacts between the alleged gang members, as well as an analysis of where phones were at certain times.

Other evidence expected to be heard by the court includes details of a sat nav from one of the stolen cars being found in the possession of Mr Flynn's father at Dublin Airport in April 2013 and documents from another stolen car being found partially burnt in a house where Brady was living in March 2013.

He said if all the burglaries were taken together, a pattern became clear in relation to the individuals involved in the crimes, which were all highly similar.

The trial is expected to take around four months.