Raonaid garda loses Supreme Court appeal
A GARDA failed in a Supreme Court appeal seeking to halt disciplinary proceedings alleging discreditable and insensitive conduct by him in his role as liaison officer with the family of murdered teenager Raonaid Murray.
The proceedings arose from allegations by the Murray family that, about six weeks after the murder in September 1999, Gda Ian Gillen drove the dead girl's sister, Sarah, her cousin and one of Sarah's friends, home from a nightclub at a time when he had consumed a number of pints of beer and he also allegedly urinated on a tree near the scene of the killing.
Garda Gillen (50), of Kill O'The Grange garda station, was subject to internal disciplinary proceedings after a complaint from the Murray family about his behaviour was deemed inadmissible by the Garda Complaints Board in May 2004 -- because the complaint was not made within six months of the date of the alleged incident.
He brought a High Court challenge in 2005 to stop the disciplinary moves, arguing the delay in bringing the action adversely affected his conditions of employment and promotion.
In 2006, the High Court's Mr Justice Roderick Murphy refused to halt the disciplinary proceedings against him and he appealed this decision.
In a two-to-one majority decision, the Supreme Court's Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan, with whom Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell agreed, rejected the appeal. Mr Justice William McKechnie, in a dissenting judgment, allowed it.
Mr Justice Finnegan was satisfied it was not the intention of the garda regulations that a failure to proceed with expedition will necessarily result in a disciplinary action becoming void.
After making a verbal complaint in the immediate aftermath of the alleged incident involving Gda Gillen, the parents expressly reserved their right to make a formal complaint, intending to do so once the murder had been solved, the judge said. While it was never solved, they made the complaint in November 2002.
The period of investigation immediately following the murder must have been traumatic for the family and the alleged conduct of Gda Gillen clearly added to that, the judge said.
- In yesterday's Irish Independent, under the headline 'Raonaid garda wins appeal to halt disciplinary inquiry', we carried a report of the Supreme Court minority judgment of Mr Justice William McKechnie which was erroneously reflected as a majority judgment that Gda Ian Gillen had won his appeal.