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Thursday 18 September 2014

Garda Pulse records were 'altered' says whistleblower

Whistleblower McCabe to pass on evidence of alleged falsified cases

Published 25/05/2014 | 02:30

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Whistleblower Garda Sgt Maurice McCabe. Photo: Tom Burke
Whistleblower Garda Sgt Maurice McCabe. Photo: Tom Burke

MORE than 700 records – that it is claimed show that information registered on the Garda Pulse system was altered to cover up the force's failure to investigate – will be given to a new commission of inquiry into malpractice in the force, the Sunday Independent has learnt.

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The Pulse records include previously undisclosed cases of motoring offences and minor drugs offences allegedly not followed up by gardai.

The records were printed off the system by the whistleblower, Sergeant Maurice McCabe, in September 2010 to back his claim that nothing was being done about hundreds of alleged offences in Cavan and Monaghan.

Sgt McCabe claimed the Pulse records were changed to give the false and misleading impression that offences had been properly dealt with months after he raised his concerns with Garda management.

In one district, hundreds of Pulse records were modified on the same date in April 2011.

The Pulse records all relate to the Cavan and Monaghan areas. They include the case of a driver who was asked to "produce documents" at a checkpoint in 2007. According to the Pulse records, he produced the documents on the same day. But he was logged on the system as a "suspected offender" for four years, by which time his case was highlighted by Maurice McCabe. The Pulse record was later declared "invalid".

Other cases include that of a truck driver who was pulled in for no insurance in February 2009 and had his vehicle seized. The Garda created two Pulse records, one to record the offence of driving with "no insurance", and the second to record the vehicle detention, saying: "Driver admitted no insurance." But despite this admission, the Pulse record was updated in 2011 to say: "Insurance produced later."

A motorist was stopped in 2007 with no insurance or documents. The Pulse record generated at the time quoted "non-production of documents" and said the case should proceed to summons.

Nothing appears to have happened in the case until April 2011, when the Pulse record was updated and said: "Insurance produced" and "no review needed".

A man who admitted driving with no insurance in December 2008 was also entered on the Pulse system. The record was not updated until April 2011 when it was noted: "No prosecution taken, offender deceased." But Sgt McCabe alleged that the man's death occurred more than a year after his offence was registered on the Pulse system.

It is understood that the 700 records include 80 cases in which children – including a five-year-old child – were entered on the Pulse system, in some instances as suspected offenders for drugs, though no evidence was found.

Sgt McCabe's submission to the Commission of Inquiry will include the claim that 80 per cent of the cases he highlighted were later erased or belatedly updated to make it look as though the crimes had been dealt with when they had not.

He will also claim that around 20 per cent of those records were "invalidated" after they were brought to the attention of Garda management by Sgt McCabe.

The alleged alteration of Pulse records was one of 10 matters that government-appointed barrister Sean Guerin referred for public inquiry. Of the 200 records given to him by Sgt McCabe, he examined 10 in detail.

In his report, Mr Guerin highlighted the bizarre case of a publican in Cavan found serving after hours.

In September 2010, the Pulse entry on the incident said: "At least 40 persons on premises, fresh drink still being served, night in full flow." By September 2011, the Pulse entry was allegedly deleted and replaced with: "Premises checked, all in order."

Mr Guerin wrote in his report: "An issue arises as to whether Pulse records of incidents that should have resulted in prosecution but did not are being altered at a later date to disguise the failure to prosecute."

The Pulse system is used to record incidents and intelligence reports.

Children and adults can be listed on Pulse even where there is no evidence of wrong doing. The system is subject to the Garda's code of practice on data protection, and access is restricted.

Sunday Independent

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