Thursday 23 February 2017

Gardai start to act on Wheelock report

Tom Brady and Edel Kennedy

Gardai are implementing a number of recommendations issued by the Garda Ombudsman Commission in its report into the death of Terence Wheelock while in custody.

Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said last night that some of the proposals from the ombudsman were already being put into action.

Mr Wheelock (20), of O'Casey Avenue, in north inner-city Dublin, died in the Mater Hospital on September 16, 2005, after he had been found unconscious in a cell in Store Street garda station on June 2, 2005.

The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) was called in to establish whether or not the conduct of any member of the force had caused the death of or serious harm to Mr Wheelock.

It was also asked to examine the possibility of any failure by a garda in allowing for the presence of a cord in his cell and any act or omission by gardai surrounding his arrest and detention that could have contributed to Mr Wheelock's death.

It followed an internal inquiry by the gardai, following which a file was sent to the DPP. This resulted in no prosecution and an inquest by the Dublin city coroner, which resulted in a verdict of suicide.

The GSOC report, published yesterday, found that:



  • There was no credible evidence that Mr Wheelock had been mistreated during his detention.
  • There was insufficient evidence to support the allegation he was assaulted by gardai during his arrest at Sean O'Casey Avenue on June 2, 2005.
  • The allegation that he had been sexually assaulted during his detention was wholly without foundation.
  • The allegation that gardai had taunted Mr Wheelock during his detention was not supported by credible evidence.


But it established that systemic failures and the lack of clear instruction led to the presence of a ligature suspension point in his cell; a lack of clear instruction and process had allowed Mr Wheelock to bring a ligature (the cord of his tracksuit) with him into the cell; and the recording of the details of his custody had fallen below appropriate standards.

Cameras

The GSOC called on the gardai to begin a nationwide review of all custody facilities to ensure no ligature points existed within cells and a study of the feasibility of installing CCTV cameras in all custody areas.

It wants a dedicated officer with responsibility for the custody of prisoners, the issuing of clear instructions on searches for potential ligatures and for custody record entries to be accurate and complete.

Mr Murphy said work was progressing on the installation of CCTV in 10 stations, with plans to install systems in a further five.

He said the Office of Public Works had surveyed facilities in 40 stations in the Dublin metropolitan region and had begun a programme of upgrade works.

Mr Wheelock's brother, Larry, said he was not happy with the report's conclusions. He reiterated his call for a public inquiry.

Irish Independent

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