Rattigan trial hears evidence from mobile phone forensics expert

The Special Criminal Court trial of Brian Rattigan, who is accused of possessing €1m worth of heroin, has heard video-link evidence from a mobile phone forensics expert based in New Zealand.

Rattigan (aged 31), with a last address at Cooley Road, Drimnagh, has pleaded not guilty to the possession of heroin and two counts of possession of the drug for sale or supply on Hughes Road South, Walkinstown, Dublin on May 21, 2008.

He has also pleaded not guilty to the possession of two mobile phones at Cell 42, E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison while an inmate at the prison on May 22, 2008.

Addressing the court via video link, Colm Gannon told counsel for the State, Mr John O’Kelly SC, that he was trained in level one mobile phone forensics and was a member of the Garda Organised Crime Unit in May 2008 but had since retired and moved to New Zealand.

He said that he examined a black and silver Nokia 6300 mobile phone, a Samsung mobile phone and two pre-pay SIM cards from the Meteor and Vodafone networks that were handed to him by investigating gardaí.

Mr Gannon told Mr O’Kelly that, using computer software, he was able to retrieve text messages and contact details stored in the Nokia 6300 phone and one text message from the Vodafone SIM card in what is known as an XRY analysis.

He said he inserted a cloned SIM card in to the Nokia 6300 device, which he said allowed the device to be kept off the mobile communication network and conserved data on the phone at the point at which it was seized.

Mr Gannon said that in April 2010 he also examined a Nokia 2630 phone which he was informed were taken from Anthony Cannon during a garda raid on the house on Hughes Road South.

It is the prosecution case that Rattigan used mobile phones to act as the “directing force” behind a €1m heroin deal from his cell in Portlaoise Prison.

The court has heard evidence that gardaí who raided the house on Hughes Road South discovered five kilos of heroin valued at over €1m in a shed at the back of the property. There was evidence that gardaí also discovered a red and white Nokia phone alongside an electronic weighing scale in the shed.

Last week detectives gave evidence that Rattigan was lying on his bed talking on a mobile phone when they arrived to search his cell, and that the accused man jumped up and threw a phone in their direction when they entered the cell.

There was also evidence that the accused man attempted to grab a SIM card on the bed before he was handcuffed.

The non-jury court viewed CCTV footage of an object being thrown on to a landing at Portlaoise prison during the garda search of the accused man’s cell.

An enhanced version of the CCTV footage was also shown to the court, which telecommunications technician Joe O’Sullivan told Mr O’Kelly showed a white line appearing close to a wall opposite Rattigan’s cell before an object comes in to view on the prison landing.

However, Mr O’Sullivan told counsel for the defence, Mr Brendan Grehan SC, that he could not see anything coming out of the accused man’s cell door from the footage.

He told Mr Grehan he could “only guess” the object in the footage was travelling at such a high velocity that it was not captured on the prison CCTV system, which he said filmed at a “very slow” frame rate of five to six frames per second.

In March 2011 the Director of Public Prosecutions ordered that Rattigan's trial should be moved from the Circuit Criminal Court to the Special Criminal Court (SCC), which normally deals with terrorist offences, because the ordinary courts are "inadequate" to try the case.

The Special Criminal Court was told that the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, made an order that Rattigan should be tried at the non-jury SCC following an application by the Director of Public Prosecutions under the Offences Against the State Act.

The trial continues.

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