The trial of a Limerick man accused of falsely imprisoning two men in an attempt to extort money from a postmistress in Limerick five years ago has begun at Limerick Circuit Court.
Zachary Coughlan Ryan (39), with an address at South Claughaun Road, Garryowen has denied the false imprisonment of Stephen Cusack and Niall Reddan between the dates of 19 and 20 August 2012.
The jury, made up of six women and six men heard the accused worked with two others to imprison the injured parties whom it’s alleged were moved to a number of locations in a pickup truck owned by the Cusack family. The court heard that Stephen Cusack’s mother, Carol Cusack, was working as postmistress in the Garryowen area at the time of the alleged kidnapping.
The alleged victims were in the home of Patrick Cusack Jr., the brother of Stephen Cusack at 135 Caislean na hAbhann, Castletroy when the accused allegedly falsely imprisoned them. The court heard the men were allegedly moved from the house to Killonan, Castletroy, and that Stephen Cusack was then taken to a field in Donoughmore, County Limerick.
In his opening address, John O’Sullivan, prosecution for the State, told the jury the alleged victims were moved to a derelict house in the Castletroy area in a pickup truck that was reversed up a laneway toward the house. At this point, the man in the passenger seat of the pickup truck stood out and was said to be unmasked.
Mr O’Sullivan told the jury, the witness, Stephen Cusack “could see clearly” the person who got out of the pickup truck because of the reverse, and brake lights.
When asked about his recollection of the evening by Mr O’Sullivan, Stephen Cusack said, “we were just sitting watching telly. Two men came in the door, two masked men”.
Asked if he could describe the men, Mr Cusack noted it was more than five years ago and said he couldn’t accurately describe them, but said “one was tall, the other was shorter. One had a gun and one had a knife”.
Mr Cusack told the court the two men entered the house and told them to get on the ground.
“They tied us up, I’m sure they said something else but I can’t recall,” he said.
Mr Cusack then told the court what he remembered from the night, including seeing the face of one of his alleged kidnappers.
“I saw clearly,” he said, describing how the reverse and brake lights of the vehicle lit up the passage.
Mr Coughlan Ryan entered a plea of not guilty and chose to represent himself in the trial. During his cross-examination of Stephen Cusack on the first day of the trial, Mr Coughlan Ryan noted the make and model of the pickup truck that was used to transport the injured parties did not have reverse lights as mentioned in Mr Cusack’s statement.
During his questioning, Mr Coughlan Ryan asked Stephen Cusack about alleged discrepancies in the times of mobile phone messages linked to the crime as well as movements and calls made from the evening of 19 August 2012.
When called to the stand, Niall Reddan, the second alleged injured party was asked to recollect the evening by Mr O’Sullivan.
“My life has changed an awful lot since then. I refuse to give evidence,” he said.
When asked once more he repeated, “I refuse to give evidence”.
Zachary Coughlan Ryan then said, “All I want is the truth”, to which Mr Reddan gave the same reply.
Judge Tom O’Donnell informed Mr Reddan if he refused to give evidence he would be in contempt of court, and advised the witness to seek legal counsel before reappearing before the court Thursday morning.
The trial is due to continue on Thursday, September 28th.