Garda who shot post office raiders cleared in probe
A MAJOR investigation by the Garda Ombudsman Commission into the shooting dead of two post office raiders six years ago has found that the use of force by the gardai was proportionate.
The ombudsman exonerated the garda, who fired the shots killing the two men from Dublin's north inner city, Colm Griffin (33), from Canon Lillis Avenue, and Eric Hopkins (24), of Lower Rutland Street.
Both were shot after members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit (ERU) foiled an attempted hold-up at Lusk post office in north county Dublin on May 26, 2005.
Griffin was armed with a semi-automatic handgun while Hopkins was unarmed.
The ombudsman's report, which is due to be published later today, is understood to conclude that the garda involved in the shooting had no case to answer and had used a proportionate amount of force.
It also ruled out the need for any criminal or disciplinary proceedings.
But it is believed to have issued a number of recommendations to the garda authorities about incidents where gardai are carrying arms.
The recommendations are focused on pre-planning by senior officers before an operation; the need for a full briefing of all personnel to ensure that everybody involved is fully aware of the details; and the need for a contingency Plan B if the incident does not take place along the expected lines.
In the Lusk robbery it was expected by garda officers that the armed gang would enter the post office from the front of the premises, known as the Village Store.
ERU members planned to capture the raiders as they ran in.
However, the gang changed tactics and used a stolen Skoda car to drive around to the back of the shop to gain entry.
Copies of the ombudsman's findings have been circulated in the past few days to relatives of the two dead raiders, to the gardai involved in the incident, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and Justice Minister Alan Shatter.
Security sources said last night that a number of the recommendations, which are not being made public by the ombudsman, were already under consideration by the garda authorities as part of an overall review of the use of firearms by the force.
The garda intelligence about the raid was largely accurate but the information about the gang's entry to the post office meant that there was a large party of officers at the front of the premises.
Undercover officers ran into the store to conceal themselves as the raiders were about to enter from the rear.
Independent witnesses said the gardai identified themselves and called out to the three-man gang to surrender.
But Griffin had produced his handgun and the gardai opened fire, hitting him and Hopkins.