Friday 28 July 2017

Garda resigns from force after street assault guilty verdict

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

A GARDA found guilty of assaulting a man who resisted arrest has resigned from the force.

Garda Daniel Hickey was found guilty last week of assault causing harm against Anthony Holness, a man who urinated in public in Waterford city last year.

He and two other colleagues are facing prison terms, ranging between two years to life, for their role in the assault on Mr Holness who complained about the incident to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

That led to the first convictions against serving members of the gardai for an assault in the course of their duties.

Legal experts say that the resignation, in which ex-Garda Hickey has forfeited his future salary and pension entitlements, could be taken into consideration by the trial judge at Hickey's sentence hearing later this year.

The resignation and other factors, including the potential difficulties for serving and former gardai facing custodial sentences, may lead to Hickey's sentence being reduced.

Some reduction in sentencing, up to and including the suspension of a sentence -- meaning no jail time at all -- has been granted by the courts in the past to serving and former gardai and prison officers because of suggestions that they are likely to suffer more in prison and have to be isolated from the general prison population.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan will shortly receive a report from GSOC before deciding whether a range of disciplinary sanctions, including expulsion or suspension from the force, should be taken against Sergeant Martha McEnery and Garda John Burke -- who were also convicted following a lengthy jury trial at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court.

All three, who are currently remanded on bail, will be sentenced on November 7.

Another garda, Sergeant Alan Kissane, was acquitted of assault causing harm and is expected to return to his duties.

The three convictions are the first secured by GSOC following a jury trial since it came into being in 2007, and comes as the courts are experiencing an increase in prosecutions involving alleged garda misconduct.

Last May, Dean Foley, a garda stationed at Bantry in Cork, escaped a six-month jail term after his legal team argued that "it is a much more difficult thing" for a garda or prison officer to serve a sentence.

Foley, who resigned from the force, was sentenced to an 18-month jail term -- with 12 months originally suspended -- after knocking his victim unconscious.

The following day the trial judge agreed to suspend the entire sentence after hearing defence submissions that gardai and prison officers suffer more in prison.

The convictions follow the acquittal last month of four Dublin-based gardai who stood trial for the alleged assault of a teenager in his home.

It also comes as the GSOC, which refused to release the Waterford CCTV footage to the Irish Independent, launched a preliminary investigation into the conduct of two senior gardai who ran an informant and self-confessed murder suspect off the books for years before a Dublin drug dealer was murdered

Irish Independent

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