Northern Ireland news

Aaron Brady: The 'border bandit' who ran out of road

Aaron Brady being arrested in the US in 2017 by Homeland Security. Picture courtesy of RTÉ.

A cross border investigation into the murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe remains active, with three further south Armagh based criminals the key suspects .

Following the conviction of Aaron Brady for the murder of Detective Donohoe, Garda Deputy Commissioner John Twomey warned others that gardaí will be "knocking on their door".

The Irish News understands that the three remaining suspects are two brothers from south Armagh who split their time between Northern Ireland and America, while the other is a member of a well known business family from the area.

The gang of four 'border bandits' were involved in cross border car theft, creeper style burglaries and armed robberies prior to the murder of the detective, who was providing protection for credit union staff on the night he was gunned down.

Brady was a suspect in at least one other credit union robbery prior to the murder of the garda detective.

Born in the Monaghan village of Inniskeen, the family relocated to Nottingham in England when Brady was a small child.

After returning home when Brady was 11, he attended Abbey Grammar School in Newry before moving to St Joseph's High School in Crossmaglen a year later.

Brady was also building up minor criminal convictions for public order, driving stolen cars and other motoring offences on both sides of the border.

Following the garda’s murder, 150 senior detectives were appointed to the case, along with national specialist units, including the Special Detective Unit, the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Organised Crime Unit.

The career criminal had been identified as a 'person of interest' for the murder just hours after the horrific killing in the carpark of Lordship Credit Union in Co Louth on January 25, 2013.

The robbery netted the gang just €7,000 while a further €27,000 was left behind in a separate bag.

The day after the killing he was stopped in a car along with another suspect and it was noted that he was "agitated", with both offered different versions of their movements the night before.

On February 5, 2013 Brady attended Dundalk Garda station with his solicitor and told gardai: "I'm here to clear my name".

After spending a full day being interviewed, the killer changed his initial story from when he was first stopped to claim that he was at a friend's house in south Armagh watching films.

He was released without charge.

In April of that year the former player for Crossmaglen Rangers left Ireland, flying on an American Airlines flight from Belfast to Newark airport in New Jersey.

Brady was shunned by republicans both in south Armagh and when he moved to America but found work with a friend who was also a suspect in the robbery.

Finding refuge among other criminals, the court was told once in America he "wore the shooting as a badge of honour".

It was at this stage Homeland Security became involved in the investigation.

Three members of the gardai travelled to the United States in December 2013 and met with the FBI, who assigned their specialist investigators to work alongside them.

Gardai spent ten days in New York before travelling to Boston.

In early 2014 Brady relocated to the Bronx where he got a job in construction and played for a local GAA team.

He was known to frequent the various pubs along Katonah Avenue every weekend.

Convinced he was out of reach he lived under his own name and regularly updated his social media accounts on his new life in New York.

One witness said when he encountered Brady in the Tombstone Bar in the Bronx, in the summer of 2014, he admitted the shooting.

Brady later assaulted the eavesdropper in the bar and threatened him to keep his mouth shut about what he had heard.

The witness identified Brady at a later stage after seeing a photo of a Crossmaglen Rangers team, but he refused to come to court to give evidence.

In 2015 Brady met a barmaid who worked in the Heritage Bar in nearby Yonkers and by the following October the woman, originally from Co Kerry, gave birth to the couple's baby boy. In April 2017 they got married and Brady applied for an American green card.

Homeland Security finally located Brady in New York in 2017.

Four years after he entered the US on a three-month visa, he was arrested by officers, detained and subsequently deported for immigration offences.

Once returned to Ireland he was jailed for dangerously driving a stolen car in 2011. He had skipped bail in 2013, while awaiting sentence having pleaded guilty to offences where he crashed into a number of vehicles in Dundalk causing E10,000 worth of damage.

As he left prison in 2018, having completed a one year sentence, he was arrested and subsequently charged with the capital murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe.

During his trial Brady spent five days in the witness box giving evidence on his own behalf.

He admitted he had lied to Gardaí about his movements in the hours, days and weeks after the murder, but he said he was lying because he didn’t want to admit he’d been laundering diesel.

The jury didn't believe him and found him guilty by a majority verdict of 11 to one.

The crime of capital murder in the Republic carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 40 years.

Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe who was shot dead during a robbery at a credit union in Co Louth on January 25, 2013

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