The trial of four men accused of having equipment for printing counterfeit currency has been adjourned until Tuesday after new information about a fifth suspect in the case was furnished to the defence.
The information was disclosed at the Special Criminal Court trial of Kevin Flanagan (43), of Borris-in-Ossory, Co Laois, Liam Delaney (42), with addresses at Mountrath and Borris-in-Ossory, Anthony Sloan (57), a native of Belfast with an address at Ard na Mara, Dundalk, Co Louth and Andrew Poole (43), of Portlaoise.
The men have all pleaded not guilty to possession of equipment, including printers and cutting machines, to manufacture counterfeit currency at Ballybrophy, Borris-in-Ossory, Co Laois on May
The court yesterday heard evidence from fingerprint expert Detective Garda James Cunningham that thumb-marks belonging to Mr Flanagan were found in a bunker containing printing machines that was hidden underneath a portable cabin where the men were arrested.
Counsel for Mr Flanagan, Mr Fergal Kavanagh SC, this morning told the court that a document given to him by Det Gda Cunningham disclosed the presence of another person in the bunker by way of fingerprint evidence.
Detective Inspector Denis Heneghan agreed with Mr Garnet Orange BL, prosecuting, he was aware that a redacted copy of notes made by Det Gda Cunningham in the course of his examination of the bunker had been disclosed to the defence at the outset of the trial.
He said that the original copy of the notes related to a person not currently before the court and that he was now claiming legal privilege on the information contained in this original copy.
Det Insp Heneghan agreed with Mr Kavanagh that as many as ten fingerprints belonging to a fifth person were found on printers contained within the bunker but said that if the individual were to be made available to the court his life would be put at risk.
He said he did not believe that this information was new information that could be damaging to the prosecution case or of assistance to the defence.
Put to him that it would be damaging to the prosecution if the individual was brought to court and gave evidence he was acting on behalf of the State to entrap people, Det Insp Heneghan said there were systems in place to protect against this type of activity.
Det Insp Heneghan said it was his opinion that a report by a well-known political magazine, which described the investigation as an “MI5 operation”, was “the invention of a reporter sitting on a stool in Baggot Street” and the investigation was a garda operation.
Asked by Mr Flanagan if he did not investigate further when fingerprints from the fifth man came up, Det Insp Heneghan replied that “the facts speak for themselves”, adding that it was his decision not to investigate further.
Det Insp Heneghan denied that he and another senior officer had liaised with the Director of Public Prosecutions and agreed that the defence should not be informed of the information about the fifth man, telling Mr Flanagan that it was decided not to disclose the material as a matter of privilege.
He accepted the defence believed full disclosure had been made when it had not, and said he thought it was “a genuine mistake” the defence were not informed about the withheld information.
Det Insp Heneghan agreed with counsel for Mr Delaney, Mr John Peart SC, that his client had told gardai that rolls of paper and print cartridges found at his address were from a courier job he agreed to do for a man he knew as “Padraig Kane”.
Asked by Mr Peart if the fifth individual ever used the name “Padraig King” or “Padraig Kane”, Det Insp Heneghan said that he had no knowledge of this being the case and that it was his belief that any of the individuals involved in the alleged counterfeiting operation could have used that name at any given time.
Under re-examination by Mr Orange, Det Insp Heneghan agreed that a report compiled by one of the gardai involved in fingerprinting the bunker, and disclosed to the defence, made it clear that fingerprints other than those belonging to Mr Flanagan were found there.
Mr Justice Paul Butler said that whenever a claim of privilege arose in the context of a person’s life being in danger, the court treated the matter very seriously and would not make a ruling on the matter until submissions were heard from all sides.
He said the non-disclosure to the defence of the discovery of a set of fingerprints in the bunker belonging to a fifth person raised a “very serious issue” and the prosecution had to consider its position.
Mr Justice Butler said that in light of this new matter the court would adjourn the trial until Tuesday.