by Aine McMahon, PA
A Co Armagh man has been found guilty of the capital murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe in Co Louth seven years ago.
A jury convicted Aaron Brady, 29, of the crime in a majority decision - 11 to one - after 22 hours of deliberations at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin.
The 41-year-old detective was shot during the robbery of Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan on January 25 2013.
Brady, of New Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, had already been found guilty by the jury of the robbery of approximately 7,000 euro (£6,293) in cash and cheques outside the credit union.
Mr Donohoe had been on duty in Bellurgan when he was shot.
The charge of capital murder includes an aggravating factor such as murdering a police officer while on duty.
The conviction carries a life sentence with a minimum 40-year prison term.
After the verdict, Brady was remanded into custody at Cloverhill prison. He will appear in court again on October 14 for sentencing.
Presiding Judge Mr Justice Michael White thanked the jury on behalf of the people of Ireland for their long service in the trial, which started in January.
He said: "You have given up your time during a life-threatening pandemic and you have all done the state some service.
"Thanks for your patience during this long trial."
Garda Representative Association president Jim Mulligan said no verdict would ever replace Mr Donohoe.
"Our first thoughts are with the family of Adrian Donohoe. No verdict and no sentence can ever replace the life taken from them," he said.
"Adrian's two children, who are still young, will never get their father back. Caroline, Adrian's wife, will never get her husband back.
"We can only hope that today's verdict begins the process of bringing healing and closure to Adrian's family.
"Adrian was a Detective Garda from a family steeped in Garda tradition. Our thoughts are with them and with Adrian's Garda colleagues who lost a great workmate and a great friend on that fateful night seven-and-a-half years ago.
"We also extend our thoughts to the community Adrian served; and to his GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) colleagues in Co Louth and in his home county of Cavan."
Aaron Brady fled to the US, via Belfast, months after the murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe.
The lengthy investigation to bring him to justice involved the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Department of Homeland Security in the US.
Outside court, Garda Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan said it was an important day for the administration of justice in Ireland.
He made clear that the investigation was not over, with four other gang members allegedly involved in the robbery yet to be brought to justice.
"It has taken a trans-national multi-agency murder investigation and this trial to uncover the truth of what actually happened at Lordship Credit Union on January 25 2013," Mr Mangan said.
"This is part one of the investigation that has been completed."
He thanked the jury and court staff for their time during the pandemic.
Garda Donohoe's widow Caroline, who was a serving Garda herself at the time of her husband's murder, spoke briefly outside court.
She thanked those involved in bringing Brady to justice on behalf of herself and her two children.
"I would like to most sincerely thank the jury for sticking with this trial for so long and for my Garda colleagues and the prosecution team on behalf of Amy, Niall and myself, thank you very much," she said.
Colm Donohoe, the murdered officer's brother, said the commitment of the jury during the longest murder trial in the history of the state was "humbling".
Mr Donohoe, himself a serving member of the Garda, also thanked the investigation team, prosecution lawyers and witnesses who gave evidence.
He praised the US Department of Homeland Security for taking on the investigation "like Adrian was one of their own".
"Aaron Brady was not alone in Lordship on the 25th of January 2013," he said.
"The quest for justice for Adrian will continue and we appeal to anyone near or far who has any information that may assist in this investigation to come forward and do the right thing and bring those involved to justice.
"While justice has been done today, nothing will bring back Adrian to his wife, his two kids, his parents, his family and his friends. As has been said at this trial, Adrian was a good man and it is the very least he deserves that justice be served."
Chief Superintendent Garda Christy Mangan said the "sense of loss and sadness" will never leave the family and colleagues of murdered Garda Detective Adrian Donohoe.
Det Managan said: "A murder investigation was launched several years ago that turned into a trans-Atlantic murder investigation, spanning three continents. Police organisations throughout the UK, Australia and the United States of America have all provided invaluable assistance to Gardai here."
He was speaking at a press briefing at Garda Headquarters in Dublin on Wednesday, after Aaron Brady was found guilty of the capital murder of Detective Donohoe.
Detective Mangan said the Department of Homeland Security in the US provided invaluable and critical assistance to aid the investigation into the murder of Detective Donohoe.
He said: "This unprecedented co-operation greatly assisted us as investigators.
"We are grateful to current and retired gardai and detectives who put their lives on hold to assist the investigation and to get us to this point. Communities on both sides of the border have provided support to us throughout the investigation.
"Today is a positive step with the conviction of Aaron Brady for the robbery and capital murder of Detective Adrian Donohoe. It is an important step to ensure all who were involved in his death will be brought to justice."
Detective Mangan continued: "We will never cease in our quest to bring accountability to bear on those who murdered Adrian. We owe that to Adrian's family, to his friends and to the people of Ireland."
He said Gardai are renewing their appeal so that anyone with any information regarding the murder investigation should come forward.
"They should come forward and make contact with us in confidence," he said.
"Anyone who assisted these people in the immediate crime or offered comfort to those who were involved, will face justice," he said.
Assistant Garda Commissioner John Twomey said other people linked to the murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe will be brought to justice.
Mr Twomey said: "The investigation continues and there were other people involved in this horrific crime. You will be brought to justice and we will make every effort and leave no stone unturned. I want to make an appeal and reiterate that no society can tolerate crimes of this nature. We as a law enforcement agency will do everything we can to work to bring the perpetrators to justice.
"I also want to make an appeal to the people who committed the crime - we will be knocking on your door and we will make sure that you pay for this horrendous act."