Garda accused of groping waitress claims disciplinary inquiry unfair

The Garda is accused of breaching Garda discipline when he allegedly groped a female staff member at a bar/restaurant
Garda accused of groping waitress claims disciplinary inquiry unfair

High Court reporters

A Garda accused of grabbing the breasts of a waitress at a restaurant where he was having a meal has brought a High Court action challenging an internal Garda inquiry set up to investigate the allegation.

The Garda, who cannot be named, claims he is the subject of a Garda Disciplinary investigation, arising out an incident alleged to have occurred in August 2014.

He claims the probe is flawed and should be dismissed.

The Garda is accused of breaching Garda discipline when he allegedly groped a female staff member at a bar/restaurant, where it is claimed the male Garda was having a meal with his then fiancée.

The Garda was not on duty when the alleged incident is said to have occurred.

Allegation

The Gardai became aware of the allegation in late 2019 and an investigation was conducted by a Garda Inspector, who interviewed several persons in 2020.

The woman told the inspector that some time in 2014 when she was working the Garda approached her from behind put his arms around her and grabbed her breasts.

The court also heard that the woman told the inspector conducting the investigation that she does not wish to pursue the matter, will not sign a statement, and will not give any evidence in relation to the matter.

Another person interviewed by the inspector said that they saw the Garda put his arms around the staff member.

The Garda's then fiancée told the inspector that she had a clear view of everything on the night in question, but did not see anything untoward.

Arising out of the inspector's report a Garda board of inquiry was set up to investigate the allegation of alleged breaches of discipline, namely inappropriate behaviour, i

Represented by Mark Harty SC the Garda claims that the investigation is unfair and should be halted.

Admissible evidence

The investigation has not disclosed any admissible evidence on which an allegation of breach of discipline could be grounded, counsel said.

Counsel said the Garda had made submissions to dismiss the disciplinary proceedings against him and conclude the inquiry. That application was dismissed.

Inadmissible evidence had been included as part of the investigation, which is unlawful, counsel said.

Given the circumstances, given the passage of time between the alleged incident and the decision to investigate the matter, the investigation is unfair counsel added.

No explanation has been given in relation to the delay in investigating the allegation, counsel said.

The investigation is also flawed because the board has indicated that it will call the woman to give evidence, but does not intend to call the Garda's then finance.

Arising out of the investigation the Garda has brought judicial review proceedings seeking various reliefs including an order quashing the Commissioner's decision to set up a board of inquiry under Garda Discipline Regulations into the matter.

Fair procedures

He also seeks declarations including that the investigation breached the Garda's rights to fair procedures and natural justice by considering inadmissible and prejudicial evidence.

He further seeks a declaration that there is no legal basis for setting up the inquiry due to the inordinate, unexplained, and inexcusable delay between the date of the alleged breach of discipline and the setting up of the internal Garda investigation.

Permission to bring the action was granted on an ex-parte basis by Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Monday.

A stay was placed on the inquiry from proceeding, pending the outcome of the full hearing of the Garda's action.

The Judge said that the Commissioner may apply to the court to seek to have the stay lifted on notice to the Garda's lawyers.

The case will come back before the court in May.

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