Former lawyer Michael Lynn has said in his multi-million dollar robbery trial that while in jail awaiting extradition from Brazil he saw an inmate beheaded by other inmates.
Mr Lynn (53) continued to testify in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Thursday.. He described what life was like in a Brazilian prison after his arrest in August 2013 in Recife, a coastal city in northeastern Brazil.
He said the jail where he was held was next to a dumpster, “a very big dumpster with rats so big that even cats would get out of them,” he told defense attorney Paul Comiskey-O’Keeffe, BL.
Lynn said that prisons in Brazil were essentially run by inmates.
“When I came in, the first three nights I was in a small shared cell with 30 other guys,” he said. “That was kind of a remnant prison. They don’t give you bowls to eat. [from] or eating utensils.”
Asked about the security of the prison, he replied: “The security is as follows: there were 1,800 prisoners and 10 security guards. Prisons are run by prisoners.”
At the jail where he was held, he said he was moved to a part of the complex where they had people who had titles, such as “lawyers and accountants.”
‘Prisoners run the prison’
Certain inmates run the prison, he said, and were given a gun and what he described as “big swords.”
“It’s like something from Game of Thrones,” he told judge Martin Nolan, adding that the violence was commonplace.
“There were ruptures, there were rebellions,” he said. “I saw people being killed. I once saw the beheading of a young man whose only sin was being gay. i don’t mean [being gay] it was a sin, but that’s how it looked over there. It’s extremely macho and all that nonsense there.”
Mr Lynn (53) of Millbrook Court, Red Cross, Co Wicklow, is on trial accused of stealing around €27m from seven financial institutions.
He has pleaded not guilty to 21 robbery charges in Dublin between October 23, 2006 and April 20, 2007.
The case for the prosecution is that Mr. Lynn obtained multiple mortgages on the same properties in a situation where the banks were unaware that other institutions were also providing financing.
On his fourth day of being questioned by defense counsel, Lynn said he went to London for the first time after failing to appear in Dublin High Court in 2007.
meetings with bankers
Before that, he said he met with bankers and Grant Thornton to discuss his assets in Ireland and elsewhere “to see if we could find a commercial solution” to his financial problems.
He said he was told that if he filed for bankruptcy in Ireland, he would face bankruptcy for 12 years.
He said he spoke to lawyers and to Michael Fingleton, then chief executive of the Irish Nationwide Building Society, and to Sean FitzPatrick of Anglo Irish Bank.
“They were very worried, and I was also very worried about having a future,” Lynn said.
He said he had a rented house in London and could file for bankruptcy in the UK for a shorter period than in Ireland, so he went there.
He said he hoped it would “allow things to settle down and work themselves out.”
move to portugal
The court heard that in February 2008, Mr. Lynn moved to Portugal and continued to live there with his wife Brid until June 2011. He told the court that he had first gone to Brazil in 2005 because there was a “commercial connection between Brazil and Portugal”. .
He said his accountant friend in Portugal introduced him to a good friend in Sao Paulo, where he lived with his wife for eight months.
Until now, the couple had been unable to have children despite IVF treatment, the court heard. But in Sao Paulo she said they were luckier and had a boy.
However, Lynn said they didn’t like the size of the city, so they moved to Recife, a smaller coastal city where, with investors, she became involved in a property in nearby Cabo de Santo Agostinho.
He said he got a salary from this and also made money teaching English.
When he was arrested, his wife was expecting again and was seven months pregnant, he told the court. At first he resisted extradition, he said.
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“I needed to give Brid time to give birth,” she told Comiskey-O’Keeffe.
He said he hoped to get bail and spend time with his children, but was denied bail. However, she said that conjugal visits to the prison were allowed and that they had two more children in Brazil.
“Brazilian prisons are very difficult for everyone,” he said. “Conjugal visits exist to keep the peace in what is essentially a war zone.”
The trial continues.