Solicitor representing retired Garda in penalty points investigation calls for 'public inquiry'

Four serving Gardaí are facing trial on a total of twelve charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice, in that they were involved in attempting to square away penalty points.
Solicitor representing retired Garda in penalty points investigation calls for 'public inquiry'

David Raleigh

A solicitor representing a retired Garda Superintendent who is charged in connection with an investigation into the alleged attempted squaring away of penalty points for well known hurling and political personalties in Limerick, has called for a “public inquiry” into the investigation, after a number of individuals who were questioned by gardaí as part of the probe have been told they will not be prosecuted.

One of the dozens of people whose mobile phone were seized by armed detectives and who were interviewed under caution, described the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation-led probe, which gardaí said it “ongoing”, as “deeply disturbing”.

While the person offered that it was a “huge relief” they will not be prosecuted, they said it was “beyond shocking what went on, making criminals out of ordinary people, it was shocking stuff, gardaí coming to your house, it was horrific”.

“What happened was gardaí came to my home and there were fellas in suits and they sat down and I could see they were armed, and they had a search warrant for the house, and they wanted my phone and they said they were investigating me.

“So, they took away my phone, I gave it to them without any hesitation because I wanted to comply with everything, it was shocking and it would seriously damage your confidence in the decision making in the force.

“I spent a number of hours in a garda station with my solicitor afterwards, the interview was very intense, they (NBCI) were emphasising throughout the whole thing that this was part of a bigger investigation, of course I was worried.

“It was worrying, but calling to houses with search warrants in the dark of night was extremely disturbing, it was way over the top.

“I was told that the DPP, (Director of Public Prosecutions), has advised the gardaí that they have no grounds for prosecution and that they would be returning our phones

“They went knocking on peoples doors in the night with search warrants, you couldn't make it up, it was most disturbing.”

Dozens of people

Commenting on the news that dozens of people will not be prosecuted, solicitor Dan O’Gorman, who is representing retired Limerick Garda Superintendent Eamon O’Neill, who is facing trial on 30 counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice as part of the probe, said: “I am not at all surprised by this development, as I highlighted from the beginning I had grave concerns in relation to this entire investigation.

“On a personal level I am very pleased for the people and their families who were part of this investigation, that any ‘cloud’ over them no longer exists - however, there are still others that remain in an air of uncertainty,” said Mr O’Gorman.

“I have requested that a public inquiry take place in relation to this entire affair.”

Mr O’Gorman also called on the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee to “review” the entire investigation.

Gardaí

Along with Mr O’Neill, four serving Gardaí are facing trial on a total of twelve charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice, in that they were involved in attempting to square away penalty points.

They are Sergeant Michelle Leahy, Roxboro Road Garda Station; Sergeant Anne Marie Hassett, Kerry Division, formerly Limerick; Garda Tom McGlinchey, Murroe Garda Station; and Garda Colm Geary, Clare Division.

Also, a number of Gardaí in Limerick and Clare remain on suspension pending a final outcome of the probe which has been ongoing for the past three years.

A senior ranking garda who was interviewed by the NBCI in their solicitor’s office has also been told they will not be prosecuted.

A source said the possibility remains that persons who have been told they will not be prosecuted may yet find themselves being brought as witnesses for the State in the trial of Mr O’Neill and the four serving gardaí.

A garda spokesman said: “As this remains an ongoing criminal investigation, An Garda Síochána cannot make any comment either in general or on specific aspects.”

“An Garda Síochána does not comment on matters before the Courts,” they added.

Meanwhile, a well known All-Ireland winning hurler who two years ago was suspected by Gardaí of having committed perjury in relation to a road traffic matter before a District Court has still not been charged with any offence.

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