Monday 25 September 2017

'Hideous' letters allegedly sent from garda 'affected solicitor's confidence' - court hears

Eve Doherty arrives at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. Photo: Collins
Eve Doherty arrives at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. Photo: Collins

Declan Brennan

A State solicitor who was allegedly harassed by a garda has told a jury that she had no idea how a "disgruntled" person would know her personal details.

Eve Doherty (49), a garda based in Dublin denies harassing Elizabeth Howlin between September 2011 and March 2013 and making false statements claiming Ms Howlin was perverting the course of justice.

At the time Ms Howlin worked as a directing officer with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). She told the jury she was involved in deciding whether or not to direct prosecutions in criminal cases.

Ms Howlin has told the jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that over an 18 month period letters and emails were sent to her home, her place of work and to her GP calling Ms Howlin a “corrupt bitch” and an “incompetent useless hobbit”.

The material made claims that Ms Howlin, who is a distant cousin of the TD Brendan Howlin, was a political appointee and that she would “pull” files to prevent the prosecution of anyone connected to her or the Government.

Ms Howlin said that all the allegations were untrue but that the material contained personal details that were true. She said the material was very upsetting and affected her confidence and peace of mind.

Michael O'Higgins SC, defending Ms Doherty, told Ms Howlin that he was not going to suggest “for one moment” that any of the allegations were true. He said his client denied being the author of any of the material.

He put it to Ms Howlin there were people connected with cases dealt with by the DPP who have made claims that the “the system was rigged” against them. He submitted that “very often” people whose cases are not prosecuted will make allegations “that aren't borne out”.

She told Kerida Naidoo SC, prosecuting, that she had “no idea” how anyone who had been prosecuted by the DPP and might be “disgruntled or unhappy” would know the personal details included in the emails.

“An accused person wouldn't ordinarily know who the directing officer is who made the decision to prosecute or not,” she said.

She agreed that in September 2016 a man telephoned her making “wild accusations”. She said the allegations were “very similar” to some of those in the emails.

She reported the call to gardaí and they checked it out and told her the caller was a previously accused person. She said that gardaí told her not to be concerned because the man was not a violent person and wasn't dangerous.

A number of Ms Howlin's neighbours gave evidence of finding A4 posters around their estate in Blackrock alleging that Ms Howlin was “turning a blind eye to drug dealing” in the estate.

The printed leaflets had a photograph of Ms Howlin and Brendan Howlin TD, incorrectly claiming he was her uncle and that she was involved with political corruption.

Ms Doherty is charged with harassment of Ms Howlin and with making a false statement on March 1, 2012 and March 31, 2012 claiming Ms Howlin attempted to pervert the course of justice. She has also pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The trial continues before Judge Melanie Greally and a jury.

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