Thursday 8 December 2016

Garda who took own life not knowing he'd been cleared by GSOC spoke to best friend just before death - inquest

Greg Harkin

Published 14/09/2016 | 18:27

The late Sgt Michael Galvin
The late Sgt Michael Galvin

A garda sergeant who took his own life not knowing he had been cleared by a Garda Ombudsman investigation had spoken to his best friend just before his death and had arranged to talk with him again the next day, an inquest has heard.

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Father-of-three Sgt Mick Galvin, (48), took his own life at Ballyshannon Garda Station in the early hours of May 28 last year.

Supreme Court Judge Mr Justice Frank Clarke later conducted an investigation into his death after the Irish Independent revealed within days of Sgt Galvin’s funeral that the officer had been cleared by GSOC prior to his death.

The GSOC criminal investigation was launched on January 1 last year when Sheena Stewart (33) died after being struck by a taxi in Ballyshannon, earlier that day.

Sgt Galvin and two other gardaí who had interaction with Ms Stewart before her death were interviewed by GSOC investigators.

Colleagues were furious that Sgt Galvin, a former senior footballer and hurler for Sligo and a father of three who lived in Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim, was unaware he had been cleared.

Judge Clarke concluded that GSOC investigating officer Daniel Gallagher had decided that Sgt Galvin should not face prosecution on May 21.

Donegal coroner Dr Denis McsCauley said at the inquest yesterday at Donegal Town Courthouse that he had agreed with the Galvin family not to examine the Ombudsman case.

Sgt Gavlin’s friend Gda Paddy Battle told the inquest that he had taken a phone call from him at 11.50pm on May 27.

“I asked ‘what the feck are you still there for?”, said Gda Battle, who said the pair had spoken briefly about a work file and had agreed to talk the next day at 11am. Sgt Galvin had said he was planning to go home.

“In my opinion it was a normal phone call, there was nothing at all unusual about it.”

The garda said his friend was a “bright, jolly, family man” who had balanced his life between work, family and his volunteering with the GAA.

Just after midnight Sgt Galvin went into the armoury at the station. His body was found slumped in a chair in the detectives’ office at 7am. An envelope with his wife Collette’s name was found on a desk.

Supt Colm Nevin told widow Colette and family members Sgt Galvin had been an excellent station sergeant, adding: “We miss him dearly.”

Dr McCauley recorded a verdict of suicide in the case.

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