Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Alison O'Riordan

It is the State’s contention that an accused’s back tattoo amounts to a “pictorial admission” of his involvement in the robbery of a Dundalk credit union during which Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe was shot dead, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

A close-up photograph of a large tattoo drawn across Brendan Treanor’s upper back, which was photographed by gardaí upon his arrest in April 2021, was displayed on several screens in the three-judge court on Tuesday.

The tattoo depicted four males with hats, including one holding a long barrelled firearm, along with a woman wearing a balaclava with a gun to her lips, a large BMW car, a pistol, rounds of ammunition and wads of money.

Brendan Grehan SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the registration plate displayed on the BMW car read “BOSS BFT” and the letters “BFT” may refer to people’s surnames including Mr Treanor’s.

Mr Treanor (34), previously of Emer Terrace, Castletown Road, Dundalk, Co Louth, and James Flynn (32), from South Armagh, are charged with the robbery of €7,000 at Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan, Co Louth, on January 25th, 2013.

Both men are also charged that between September 11th, 2012, and January 23rd, 2013, they conspired with convicted Garda-killer Aaron Brady and others to enter residential premises with the intention of stealing car keys.

The prosecution alleges that Mr Treanor and Mr Flynn were part of a group of young men who conspired to break into houses to steal car keys and then quietly make off with the cars.

They have pleaded not guilty to each charge.

Brady (31), previously of New Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, is serving a life sentence with a 40-year minimum having been found guilty of murdering Det Gda Adrian Donohoe and of the robbery at Lordship. He denied any involvement in the robbery and is awaiting an appeal against his conviction.

Back tattoo

Garda Aidan Hanlon told Brendan Grehan SC, prosecuting, that he took seven photographs of Mr Treanor on the morning of April 19th, 2021, including two of his back.

Describing the taking of the close-up photographs of Mr Treanor’s tattoo on the screen in the courtroom, Gda Hanlon said the accused was standing facing the wall at the time with his back to him. “He just pulled the top he was wearing over his head and is still partially dressed,” he added.

Mr Grehan said the photograph of the tattoo depicted four males with hats, a fairly large BMW car in the centre, a pistol, a number of rounds of ammunition, wads of money, a knuckle duster and a female figure with a balaclava.

The prosecutor also said that the female figure, with hair going down the right-hand side, is holding a gun up to her lips.

On the left-hand side of the tattoo, Mr Grehan said, are four male figures wearing hats. The second man is holding what appears to be a long barrelled firearm, said counsel.

In total, Mr Grehan said there are four men and a woman visible in the tattoo and two characters to the left of the vehicle wearing ties.

The tattoo, the barrister said, shows the headlights belonging to the BMW car and fog lights underneath it.

The registration plate on the BMW car reads: “BOSS BFT”. Mr Grehan said the court has heard evidence that Mr Treanor gave his statement as Brendan Thomas Treanor and therefore the letters “BFT” may refer to people’s surnames including his own.

Under cross-examination, Michael Lynn SC, defending Mr Treanor, put it to the witness that the tattoo was in fact covering up the name ‘Charlene’. Gda Hanlon replied “possibly, yes”.


Earlier, there was legal argument between both sides over the admissibility of the photograph of Mr Treanor’s tattoo, with Mr Lynn arguing that the photo was not taken voluntarily, and the accused should have been cautioned.

In reply, Mr Grehan said all the prosecution is contending for is that the accused was properly arrested, detained, had access to a solicitor and that authorisation was granted for the taking of the photographs and fingerprints.

“We are not dealing with consent, we are dealing with authorisation pursuant to statute which Mr Treanor cooperated with,” he said.

The lawyer said the taking of the photographs was lawfully done and what Mr Lynn was complaining about was the purpose that the photographs might be put to and that was ultimately a matter for the court.

In its ruling, Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Alan Mitchell said the court was satisfied that the photograph was taken in the context of an entirely lawful procedure.

The trial previously heard evidence from Mary Hanlon, the treasurer at Cooley Credit Union, that just before the robbery occurred a car had blocked the exit to Lordship car park.

Ms Hanlon told Mr Grehan that she thought “what a stupid b***h, parking there” and saw what she believed to be a woman with short blonde hair in the driver’s seat of the getaway car.

Former detective garda Joe Ryan, who was in the patrol car with Det Gda Donohoe that evening, has testified in this trial that he saw two males running towards him in the car park and one of them had a full length shotgun and the other had a handgun.

Mr Ryan said the man with the shotgun had it pointed at his face and body and was shouting and roaring ‘I’ll f**king kill you, don’t move I’ll shoot’.

Two other credit union employees Pat Bellew and Bernadette McShane described how two other raiders had approached their cars. All five raiders then escaped as the getaway car sped off from the scene.

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