€33,000 awarded to 'rape tape' case sergeant
A FORMER Garda sergeant who was awarded €33,000 in a defamation case against a Shell to Sea protester, was yesterday identified as the officer involved in the "rape tape" scandal earlier this year.
James Gill, 52, of Crossmolina, Co Mayo, who retired from the force last month, won his action for damages against leading Corrib Gas protester Pat O'Donnell, known as 'the Chief'.
Mr Gill claimed that he was branded a thief and a smuggler in loud comments made in public by Mr O'Donnell, 54, of Porturlin, Ballina, Co Mayo.
Mr Gill told Castlebar Circuit Court last Wednesday that on the morning of November 3, 2006, he was in charge of a group of about 15 gardai among a force of 150 policing a Shell to Sea protest in Bellanaboy.
Mr O'Donnell shouted at him: "You stole diesel and you smuggled tyres across the border." Mr Gill said he felt stressed and embarrassed and his health suffered as a result.
The judge accepted Mr Gill's word and ordered Mr O'Donnell to pay €27,500 in damages and €5,500 in aggravated damages.
Mr Gill, who has been repeatedly commended for his investigative work in rape cases in the past, was yesterday identified by Shell to Sea protesters as the garda officer in question who made the offensive remark following the arrest of two female protesters at the Corrib site in April.
Mr Gill was heard saying in a joking conversation with another garda: "Give me your name and address or I'll rape you." The subsequent investigation by the Garda Ombudsman Commission revealed the comment was not overheard by the two female protesters, but was recorded on the confiscated video, while in the gardai's possession.
The Garda Ombudsman Commission has since concluded the gardai involved had no criminal case to answer.
Mr O'Donnell is to appeal the award.