Co Armagh man sentenced to life in prison for capital murder of serving garda

Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe (PA Media)
15:51pm, Wed 14 Oct 2020
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A Co Armagh man has been sentenced to life in prison for the capital murder of a serving garda.

Aaron Brady, 29, was found guilty in August of murdering Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe during the robbery of Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan, Co Louth, on January 25 2013.

Brady, of New Road, Crossmaglen, was sentenced to the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment for a period of not less than 40 years.

He was also sentenced at Dublin’s Criminal Courts of Justice to 14 years for robbery to run concurrently.

We had a loving, happy family, everything was just perfect, but in just 58 senseless seconds everything changed forever

Brady had also been found guilty by a unanimous jury decision of the robbery of about 7,000 euro (£6,300) in cash and cheques outside the credit union.

Mr Donohoe, 41, had been on duty in Bellurgan when he was killed with a shotgun blast.

The court heard at the sentencing that the night Mr Donohoe was shot he had been conducting a “regular Friday night duty”.

He “died instantly” at the scene after he confronted raiders.

The court also heard the entire incident was captured on CCTV and that it “took less than one minute from beginning to end, 58 seconds”.

Mr Justice Michael White said Brady gave the detective “no chance” and that it was shocking the crime was committed by someone so young.

Mr Donohoe’s wife, Caroline, said that in just “58 senseless seconds” her life and the lives of her children and the Donohoe family had changed completely.

“There are absolutely no words that can adequately express the impact the events of January 25 2013 had on my life and the lives of my children and extended family, colleagues and friends and all who loved Adrian,” she said.

Garda Adrian Donohoe’s widow Caroline leaving Dublin Central Criminal Court (PA Wire)

“I will never recover fully from what I had to see at Lordship,” Mrs Donohoe added.

“My heart breaks every time I pass there and sometimes I can’t get images out of my mind for hours.”

Mrs Donohoe said they were a loving family and nobody would ever replace her husband.

“Amy and Niall have missed having their daddy at their communions, confirmations and all the firsts in their young lives,” she added.

“We had a loving, happy family, everything was just perfect, but in just 58 senseless seconds everything changed forever.”

The late garda’s parents Hugh and Peggy Donohoe said it was “hard to accept that such a good man could come across such evil that night” and that no parent should have to deal with such an “evil pointless act”.

Mr Donohoe was the eldest of six children, and his parents said “life was not worth living” but they “try to exist” for their children and grandchildren.

“He was as good a son as we could ever have asked for,” they said. “We miss him every day.”

They added that he should never have been “shot down in such a brutal way”.

Mr Donohoe’s sister Mary said she looked up to her big brother “in every sense of the word”.

I don’t think Aaron Brady will ever comprehend what he’s done to our family

She read out a statement in court on behalf of herself and her brothers and sisters.

“He was large in stature and large in personality,” she said, adding that his “enthusiasm for life was infectious”.

She said her brother had a “strong sense of duty” and “stood up for what is right”.

She added that the family had been left “distraught” since his murder, and all they had left now were photos.

“I don’t think Aaron Brady will ever comprehend what he’s done to our family,” she told the court.

Brady was in court while victim impact statements by the garda’s family and the other Detective Garda on duty with Mr Donohoe on the night he died were read out.

Joe Ryan said the incident still “haunts” him everyday and he gets “horrific flashbacks” that had “totally changed his life”.

I'll always feel guilty it was him and not me

Mr Ryan said nobody would ever expect that their colleague would be “murdered in cold blood” beside you.

“I’ll always feel guilty it was him and not me,” he added.

Brady is the first person in more than 35 years to be jailed for the capital murder of a garda.

The charge of capital murder includes an aggravating factor such as murdering a police officer on duty.

A jury of five men and seven women returned a majority verdict of 11 to one, convicting Brady after more than 20 hours of deliberation.

It was the longest murder trial in the history of the state.

Brady fled to the US, via Belfast, months after the murder.

The lengthy investigation to bring him to justice involved the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Department of Homeland Security in the US.

Four other gang members allegedly involved in the robbery are yet to be brought to justice.

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