Zach awaits State decision on third trial over alleged tiger kidnap

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ZACHARY Coughlan Ryan will find out later this week if the State is to seek a third trial for the alleged tiger kidnap of a postmistresses son in Limerick over five years ago.

The jury of six men and six women hearing the retrial of the 39-year-old was unable to agree a verdict and was dismissed after three and half hours of deliberation last Friday.

After considering the evidence heard during the previous three weeks, the foreman of the jury told Judge Tom O’Donnell at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court that the 12 were unable to reach a majority verdict and no further time would allow them agree.

In October 2013, Zachary Coughlan Ryan was found guilty of falsely imprisoning Stephen Cusack and Niall Reddan at Caisleann na hAbhainn, Castletroy between August 19 and 20, 2012 and demanding a €500,000 ransom for their release.

In January 2014, the 39 year-old Garryowen man with an address at Brennans Row, Catherine Place, Limerick was sentenced to ten years in prison.

This was later reduced to eight years and three months and his conviction was subsequently overturned by the Court of Appeal and a re-trial was ordered.

It was the State’s case that Mr Coughlan Ryan was a member of a three-man gang who specifically kidnapped Stephen Cusack in a bid to extort €500,000 from his postmistress mother.

Since his arrest five days after the alleged 2012 events, the Garryowen man has denied the charges and after his 2013 conviction was quashed and a retrial ordered, Zachary Coughlan Ryan has defended himself without any professional legal representation, save for a brief representation by the late John Devane during a remand hearing.

During the trial, the court heard that two young men were allegedly bound and gagged in a house in Castletroy and then bundled into the back of a pick-up truck and taken to a derelict house on the outskirts of the city.

One of the men, Niall Reddan was let go by the three armed and masked men but Stephen Cusack said that he managed to escape after he ran from the youngest member to the gang who was left alone to watch over him.

Stephen Cusack told the trial that he allegedly saw the face of one of his kidnappers when it was lit by a reversing light on the pick-up truck, but this evidence was contradicted as the pick up truck did not have reversing lights.

He also told the jury that he identified Zachary Coughlan Ryan in an ID parade at Henry Street a number of days later.

Mr Coughlan Ryan had been arrested on August 25, 2012 by armed gardai who raided a house on Lord Edward Street.

The trial heard evidence from members of the armed Garda Regional Support Unit (RSU) of arresting the 39-year-old who was allegedly trying to flee the house.

During a series cross-examinations, Stephen Cusack was asked if a garda detective showed him a picture of the accused on a mobile phone before the Henry Street identification parade.

This allegation was denied by Cusack and gardai and the court was told a complaint by Mr Coughlan to GSOC was found to be “vexatious”.

Throughout the course of the three-week trial, Mr Coughlan Ryan methodically cross examined his accusers in a unique set of circumstances seen at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court.

Mr Coughlan Ryan questioned details of phone records, DNA samples and omissions he highlighted with the State’s case pit forward.

The Garryowen man also put it to several witnesses, including Mr Cusack’s father Patrick Snr that a member of his family was behind the abduction.

This was denied.

Garda evidence included the arrests of two other members of the alleged armed gang, knives, cable ties and a gag found in a field as well as CCTV footage capturing the pick-up and an audio of the 999 emergency call made to alert Gardai.

Last week after the jury told Judge O’Donnell of their disagreement, they were dismissed and prosecution counsel John O’Sullivan sought leave to seek instructions from the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mr Coughlan Ryan did not seek bail and the matter was adjourned until later this week.

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