‘Gardaí coming to your house in the dark was over the top’ – Consequences of Limerick penalty ‘squaring’ investigation

A MAN questioned by detectives in the Limerick inquest into removing penalty points has criticized the tactics used by the force.

The officers acted “exaggeratedly” when they armed with guns and searched his family’s home in the middle of the night.

Several people suspected by Gardai of having their penalty points wiped out by officers have been informed that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has ruled that they will not be prosecuted.

A retired Limerick Garda Superintendent and four acting Gardai were accused last year of attempting to distort the course of justice.

While the DPP ruled that these five defendants should be brought to justice, the bureau has ruled that dozens of civilians, including some known slingers, a politician and a media figure, will not be prosecuted.

So too does a group of Midwest-based Gardai who have been suspended for the past two years. These officers were not charged with any crime, but were cautiously questioned by detectives with the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

The NBCI launched an investigation into “corruption in office” three years ago after officials suspected a senior police officer had leaked information about an investigation to suspects.

After confiscating a mobile phone, they began investigating whether Gardai had collected penalty points for certain parties.

One of those interviewed by NBCI, who was told they would not be prosecuted, said the way NBCI’s Gardai interacted with him was “deeply disturbing”.

While it was a “huge relief” not to be prosecuted, he said it was “more than shocking what was going on”.

He said it was “more than shocking what was going on, turning common people into criminals, it was shocking stuff, Gardai came to your house, it was appalling.

“What happened was Gardai came to my house and there were guys in suits and they sat down and I could see they were armed and they had a search warrant on the house and they wanted my phone and they wanted them said they were investigating me.

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

“I then spent a few hours with my lawyer in a Lake Garda station, the interview was very intense, they (NBCI) stressed all the time that this was part of a larger investigation, of course I was worried.

“It was worrying, but phoning houses in the dark of night with search warrants was extremely worrying, it was completely over the top.”

“I was told that the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) advised the Gardai that they had no reason for prosecution and that they would be returning our phones.”

“They were knocking on people’s doors at night with search warrants, you couldn’t imagine that, it was extremely disturbing.”

Attorney Dan O’Gorman is representing retired Limerick Garda Superintendent Eamon O’Neill, who remains on trial on 30 counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice as part of the inquiry.

Referring to others who are not being prosecuted, he added: “On a personal level, I am very happy for the people and their families involved in this investigation that there is no longer a ‘cloud’ over them – it however, there are still others who remain in a climate of uncertainty.

“I have requested that a public inquiry be held into this entire matter.”

Mr O’Gorman also urged Attorney General Helen McEntee to “review” the entire investigation.

Gardai said the investigation, led by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, is “ongoing”.

Along with Mr O’Neill, four acting Gardai are on trial on a total of 12 counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice by participating in an attempt to equalize penalty points.

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

A number of Gardai in Limerick and Clare have also been suspended pending a final outcome of the investigation, which has been ongoing for three years.

A source said the possibility remains that people who have been told they will not be prosecuted could still be produced as state witnesses at the trial of Mr O’Neill and the four serving Gardai.

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

“An Garda Síochána does not comment on court matters,” they added.

https://www.independent.ie/news/gardai-coming-to-your-house-in-the-dark-was-way-over-the-top-fallout-from-probe-into-squaring-of-penalty-points-in-limerick-41941284.html ‘Gardaí coming to your house in the dark was over the top’ – Consequences of Limerick penalty ‘squaring’ investigation

Fry Electronics Team

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