Friday 30 September 2016

High Court quashes decision to dismiss detective garda who had admitted breaching the force's rules on the handling of informants

Aodhan O'Faolain

Published 10/07/2015 | 17:17

It was alleged he breached garda rules as to how informants are handled and he was ordered by his superiors to stop.
It was alleged he breached garda rules as to how informants are handled and he was ordered by his superiors to stop.

THE High Court has quashed a decision to dismiss a detective garda who had admitted breaching the force's rules on the handling of informants.

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However, Mr Justice Iseult O'Malley said internal disciplinary proceedings against Limerick based Detective Brian Culbert should be reheard by a garda board of inquiry established to investigate allegations he had committed serious breaches of discipline.

The court heard the officer had been involved in the investigation of extremely serious crime in the Limerick area.

As part of his work, he acted as a handler for an informant.

It was alleged he breached garda rules as to how informants are handled and he was ordered by his superiors to stop.

However, in what was a complex situation, he ignored those orders.

As a result, Det Garda Culbert was charged with breaching garda disciplinary code, and an internal board of inquiry was set up to investigate the matter.

He admitted the breaches and pleaded mitigation before the board.

In September 2013, the board recommended he be dismissed and the Garda Commissioner confirmed that decision.

That decision was appealed on grounds including the board had failed to conduct a proper hearing, that the sanction was unfair and disproportionate and that he was not given the reasons for his dismissal.

He appealed that to an appeal board but he then brought proceedings in the High Court over the way this process was handled.

It was argued that a decision to provide the appeal board with a report, when one of the grounds of appeal was a failure by the board of inquiry to give reasons, meant the entire disciplinary process was beyond any possibility of correction.

The commissioner had opposed the application.

Ms Justice O'Malley quashed both the determination and recommendation of the original  board of inquiry.

She considered it appropriate to remit the matter to be reheard by a new board of inquiry.

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