‘Enormous garda investigation’ scuppered ‘creeper burglary’ conspiracy, court hears

A conspiracy by a group of young men to silently break into homes so they could make off with car keys came to an end due to an “enormous garda investigation” in the wake of the murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Lorcan Staines SC, who is prosecuting two men alleged to have been part of the conspiracy to commit burglaries, said the group of men engaged in a particular type of burglary, known as a “creeper burglary”, at homes throughout Ireland.

When they had spotted a car they wanted, they would “pop” the lock to the front door of the house to which it belonged and then silently enter to remove the car keys and make off with the car, Mr Staines said. The burglaries happened late at night when the homeowners were usually asleep.


A Volkswagen Passat stolen in the final creeper burglary in Clogherhead, Co Louth in January 2013, Mr Staines said, was used in the robbery at Lordship Credit Union in which Det Gda Donohoe was shot and killed.

Any attempt to continue with the creeper burglaries after that, counsel said, would not be possible due to the “enormous garda investigation” focussed on that area and because the accused man James Flynn and Aaron Brady, who has been convicted of murdering Det Gda Donohoe, moved to America.

Phone contacts

Mr Staines said the prosecution would ask the court to draw inferences from phone contacts around the times of the burglaries between Mr Flynn, Mr Treanor and Brady. He said inferences could also be drawn from the location of the cell sites their phones pinged off around the times when the burglaries happened.

Part of the evidence, counsel said, will be that a Satnav that had been in one car stolen in a creeper burglary was found by gardaí when they stopped and searched James Flynn’s father Eugene Flynn Snr at Dublin Airport in 2015. Partially burned documents taken from a home in Cavan during another burglary in October 2012 were found in the house where Aaron Brady was living in March 2013, Mr Staines said.


Mr Staines said the prosecution accepts that the evidence in respect of each of the burglaries would not be sufficient to prosecute either accused in isolation. Taking all of the burglaries together, he said, “the pattern becomes clear in terms of the individuals involved in these highly similar crimes”.

Circumstantial evidence

In relation to the robbery at Lordship Credit Union, Mr Staines said the evidence is circumstantial and the prosecution case will “stand or fall on the strength of many fine threads wound together.” The State, he said, would have to negate the statements from the accused in which they suggested that on the day of the robbery they had a “normal day of friendly association with each other and with Aaron Brady”.

Brendan Treanor (34), previously of Emer Terrace, Castletown Road, Dundalk, Co Louth, and James Flynn (32) from South Armagh are charged that between September 11th, 2012 and 23rd January 2013, they conspired with Aaron Brady and others to enter a house with the intention of stealing car keys.

Both men are also charged with the robbery of €7,000 at Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan, Co Louth on January 25th, 2013. They entered not guilty pleas to each charge this morning.

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


Mr Staines said there was a “fluidity” in relation to the people involved in the burglaries with the individuals changing from time to time. James Flynn was in America in September and October 2012 and therefore was not involved in three of the alleged burglaries.

However, on returning to Ireland in November 2012, Mr Staines said Mr Flynn “became an integral part of the conspiracy that was continuing right up to the shooting dead and murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe.”

Mr Staines told the court that James Flynn lived at Dunroman House in January 2013. Aaron Brady, he said, slept there regularly. Mr Staines told the court that Dunroman is about a two- to three-minute drive from Lordship Credit Union.

Mr Staines went through seven burglaries in which multiple cars, an iPad, cash and other items were stolen. He said that what is significant in relation to some of those burglaries is that people alleged to have been involved in the conspiracy were calling one another in the middle of the night around the times the cars went missing and some of their phones connected to cell sites in areas close to the scenes of the burglaries.

CCTV footage

Mr Staines said there would also be CCTV evidence showing the movements of cars at various locations including Dunroman House along with the Satnav found when gardaí stopped Eugene Flynn Snr at Dublin Airport and the documents found at Aaron Brady’s home.


Counsel said the court would see evidence of what the prosecution alleges were two “scoping exercises” at Lordship Credit Union the night before the robbery and earlier on the day of the robbery. The prosecution also relies on the fact that phones belonging to the two accused and to Aaron Brady went silent from 8.29pm, about one hour before the robbery, and only became active again at 10.37pm, a little over an hour after the robbery. Following that, he said Mr Treanor’s phone called one of Brady’s phones at 10.48pm but then stopped operating and was never activated again.

When asked about his phone, Mr Treanor told gardaí that it “fell in the bath when I was washing the dog”.

Mr Staines outlined other circumstantial evidence that the prosecution will rely on and told the court that the Lordship Credit Union had previously been robbed in 2011 with the robbers getting away with €22,000 in cash and cheques. That robbery took just 17 seconds and no guns were involved.

Two armed gardaí, including Det Gda Donohoe, were present at the robbery in January 2013 and that robbery took just under one minute.


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Mr Staines finished by saying that at the time that the 2013 robbery was taking place, a silver Mercedes with a registration plate made to read as the name “Eugene” and that belonged to Eugene Flynn Snr was seen driving in the vicinity of Lordship Credit Union. Counsel told the court that one witness who was familiar with the car remarked at the time: “Eugene is in an awful hurry.”

The trial will continue on Thursday when the defence for each accused will ask the court to hear the trials in relation to the burglary and robbery charges separately.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt is presiding with Her Honour Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Alan Mitchell.