Friday 28 October 2016

Best man in more ways than one: Off-duty garda at wedding tackles handbag thief who tried to rob tourist

Published 24/07/2016 | 08:31

Gda Rogers was best man (centre behind bride) at Dermot Ryan and Sinead Leydon’s wedding
Gda Rogers was best man (centre behind bride) at Dermot Ryan and Sinead Leydon’s wedding

AT most weddings, the role of best man entails little more than keeping the rings safe before delivering a well-received speech after the Baked Alaska.

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But Garda John Rogers learned that there is no such thing as being “off duty” as he celebrated his close friend tying the knot.

The officer was enjoying a drink outside Kehoe’s pub in Dublin city centre on Friday afternoon following the wedding ceremony of Dermot Ryan and Sinead Leyden at the Cardinal Newman church on St Stephen’s Green.

The bride and groom have deep political roots. Dermot is a member of Environment Commissioner Phil Hogan’s cabinet and previously advised Charlie McCreevy.

Sinead, meanwhile, is the daughter of the long-serving and respected Fianna Fail senator Terry Leyden and his wife, Mary. 

Sinead is attached to Interpol in Brussels.

But as he enjoyed a chat with other wedding guests, Garda Rogers heard the cries of an American tourist who had her bag snatched just a few yards away.

“He stole my bag, he stole my bag,” witnesses said she screamed.

Decked out in his best blue suit, the officer — who is attached to the Garda Immigration Unit — set off on foot after the culprit. Garda Rogers tackled the thief to the ground outside Cafe En Seine on nearby Dawson Street and kept him pinned down.

A female garda arrived on the scene to assist her off-duty colleague, who told her: “It’s okay garda, I’m an off-duty member of An Garda Siochana, but I’m the best man at a wedding.”

The culprit was arrested and brought into custody.

According to witnesses, Garda Rogers returned the bag intact to the American tourist, who said he painted an example of a “wonderful police force”.

Inside at the nearby wedding reception, Garda Rogers — who is from Tipperary but lives in Naas — was praised for his heroic act. Senator Leyden told guests: “He was like Ronnie Delany — a bullet out of a gun. It was above and beyond the call of duty but a prime example of the dedication of An Garda Siochana. I’m commending Garda Rogers for a bravery award.”

Senator Leyden told guests he intends to contact Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan to inform her of the incident.

Garda Rogers returned to his best man duties with  aplomb and gave “a cracker” of a best man speech, one guest said.

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