Man charged in relation to murder of former MI5 agent Denis Donaldson

Former senior Sinn Féin official was shot dead in Co Donegal in 2006

A 74-year-old man has appeared at the Special Criminal Court accused of withholding information in relation to the killing of Denis Donaldson.

Mr Donaldson, a senior member of Sinn Féin, was shot dead in April, 2006 following his exposure in December, 2005 as an MI5 agent.

On Tuesday, gardaí investigating the killing arrested two men in Co Donegal. One of the men, Patrick Gillespie, was charged before the Special Criminal Court on Thursday evening. The other man was released without charge.

Mr Gillespie – with an address at Craigvar St, Glasgow, Scotland – was charged with having in his possession information regarding the involvement of another person in the unlawful killing of Mr Donaldson at Cloghercor, Co Donegal.


The charge further alleges that Mr Gillespie knew or believed the information might be of material assistance in securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of the other person and that he failed without reasonable excuse to discharge that information as soon as it was practicable to a member of an Garda Siochana.

The offence is alleged to have occurred some time between April 3rd, 2006 and July 26th this year.

On Thursday, Detective Sergeant Barry Doyle, of Ballyshannon garda station, told State Solicitor Michael O’Donovan that he arrested Mr Gillespie on Main Street, Dunloe, Co Donegal.

The detective said he informed Mr Gillespie that, pursuant to Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, he was to be brought before the next sitting of the Special Criminal Court to be charged.

He explained the reason for the arrest and cautioned the man, the court heard.

The detective told the court that at the time of the arrest he believed Mr Gillespie had committed the offence for which he had arrested him.

After the arrest, the court heard, the detective took Mr Gillespie to Letterkenny garda station, where he was detained.

Det Sgt Doyle said that he met the accused man earlier today (Thurs) before the court sat and showed him an original copy of the charge sheet, which he explained to the man in ordinary language.

Mr Gillespie made no reply, the court heard.

The accused man was represented by solicitor, Michael Gillespie.

Under cross-examination, Det Sgt Doyle told the solicitor that it was shortly after 4pm on Wednesday he formed the opinion the accused man had committed the offence.

The court also heard that Mr Gillespie had been in custody for 24 hours prior to 3.17pm on Wednesday before being released.

“After he was released did new evidence come to your attention?” the solicitor asked.

The detective replied that further evidence came to his attention and that the evidence was presented to the DPP.

The detective said that he did not apply for a warrant to re-arrest Mr Gillespie.

The accused man’s solicitor also asked the detective about Mr Gillespie’s address.

The detective disagreed that Mr Gillespie’s primary residence was in Donegal.

After the cross-examination, the court’s registrar read the charge to Mr Gillespie, who wore a black jacket and green T-shirt.

He stood up when requested and when asked if he was Patrick Gillespie, he replied, “Yes.”

His solicitor then submitted that Mr Gillespie’s arrest was unlawful.

He said that the court had heard from Det Sgt Doyle that the man was arrested for questioning under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act and released at 3.17pm, before being rearrested at 10.25pm on the same day.

A warrant must be obtained, the solicitor submitted, before a person can be rearrested for the same offence.

There was no application for a warrant, he said, and no clarification of any further evidence which may have come to light after the release of the accused man.

“My submission is the arrest was unlawful and the case should be struck out at this time,” the solicitor said.

Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding with Judge Alison Lindsay and Judge Cormac Dunne, said that the court had dealt with such a matter a number of times before and that it was “universal procedure” to refuse the application.

The judge said that because the defence solicitor did not have the benefit of counsel today, it would not preclude the matter of the arrest from being raised again at a later date.

Mr Gillespie was remanded in custody until tomorrow (Friday), when a bail application is expected to be heard.

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