Friday 9 December 2016

'Lamentable failure' by gardaí to share accurate information on killer McGrath

Shane Phelan and Wayne O'Connor

Published 12/05/2016 | 02:30

Several garda failings were identified in cases involving Jerry McGrath, the man who murdered young mother Sylvia Roche-Kelly Photo: TV3
Several garda failings were identified in cases involving Jerry McGrath, the man who murdered young mother Sylvia Roche-Kelly Photo: TV3

Several garda failings were identified in cases involving Jerry McGrath, the man who murdered young mother Sylvia Roche-Kelly while on bail for a savage assault and the attempted abduction of a young girl.

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The O'Higgins report found McGrath's first victim, taxi driver Mary Lynch, was denied her right to be present in court when the matter was being dealt with. It also found the investigation of her assault in April 2007 in Virginia, Co Cavan, was "characterised by delay and lack of effective supervision".

While on bail, McGrath was arrested trying to abduct a five-year-old girl in Dundrum, Co Tipperary. Although gardaí strenuously objected to bail, he was released.

The report found the Virginia incident had been misclassified as a "minor assault" and there was a "lamentable failure" of gardaí to ensure accurate and relevant information was shared within the force.

The O'Higgins commission said it was satisfied the approach of the gardaí in Tipperary was a reasoned and considered one, but this did not excuse the failure of officers in different parts of the country to exchange correct information.

While free on bail, McGrath went on to murder Mrs Roche-Kelly at a hotel in Limerick.

Her husband, Lorcan Roche-Kelly, subsequently alleged neglect of duty on the part of gardaí in Thurles and Cavan. He also complained that gardaí had failed to respond appropriately to requests for specific information in relation to garda submissions to the district courts regarding McGrath's bail status.

The O'Higgins report criticised the treatment of Mr Roche-Kelly, who was "left in the dark for an excessive period in relation to his request for information".

It said: "He deserved better treatment from An Garda Síochána."

He declined to comment last night, but earlier this week said there was "nothing new or surprising" in the report.

"The history is nothing new. The failings are nothing new. It led to the man that murdered Sylvia to be free at the time in December 2007," he said.

Meanwhile, Mary Lynch said she wanted to meet Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan to discuss the report.

"I would like them to explain why other people make mistakes but nothing happens to them," said Ms Lynch.

"I am very angry. There is a woman dead and it is all down to human error.

"There are questions to be answered. People must be made accountable for their actions."

Irish Independent

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