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Wednesday 24 September 2014

'Sex assaults and drug offences also quashed by gardai'

Published 23/12/2012 | 05:00

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THE whistleblower at the centre of the quashed penalty points controversy has compiled a 350-page dossier alleging a litany of more serious offences that he believes have gone unpunished due to garda malpractice.

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The damning report, seen by the Sunday Independent, claims that hundreds of crimes – including sexual assaults, drug charges, public order offences and breaches of the intoxicating liquor act – have not been properly investigated by gardai.

It also alleges that almost 500 driving with no insurance charges and at least 150 dangerous driving offences were not followed up by members of the force despite being recorded in the garda pulse system.

The dossier, compiled by a serving garda sergeant, details offences in one garda division between 2008 and 2010 and is said to be supported with documentary evidence from the pulse system.

The whistleblower alleges that hundreds of charges were initially entered into the pulse system and marked "detected" but no court summons was issued and the records were later marked "undetected".

The report on garda work practices is sure to add pressure on Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who has been called on to launch a public inquiry into claims that gardai have cancelled thousands of penalty points given to motorists.

At a press conference last week, four TDs – Clare Daly, Mick Wallace, Joan Collins and Luke Flanagan – published details of the whistleblower's allegations that 66,000 traffic offences were quashed by senior gardai in the last four years.

The examples included a number of motorists who had penalty points or fixed charge notices terminated and later went on to be involved in fatal road traffic accidents.

The group revealed that one senior member of the force cancelled 1,000 penalty points for drivers in the county he was based and in at least five other counties. Another superintendent cancelled points for the wives of two of his colleagues, and his own wife's penalty points were cancelled by another member of the force.

Two weeks ago, Mr Shatter said he had received an interim report from the Garda Commissioner, which showed just 197 allegations of gardai inappropriately cancelling penalty points and fines.

But last Wednesday, the four TDs questioned the Justice Minister's figures, saying they knew of thousands of incidents where gardai had cancelled penalty points.

During the press conference in Buswells Hotel in Dublin, Ms Daly said: "It's screaming of a cover-up, to be honest."

When asked if more serious offences had been quashed, Mr Wallace said he had seen evidence that "far more serious" crimes had been cancelled.

Evening Herald columnist Gerry O'Carroll, who is a former garda detective, said on Friday that there was a culture of "squaring off" minor traffic offences when he was in the force.

He said: "There's no point in denying (that) for anyone of my vintage, it was part of our culture. Before you'd get to court – as a young garda having made 20 or 30 'detections' of offences – you'd have calls from other members in the station and around the country asking you if you could do something."

The whistleblower behind the allegations made hundreds of complaints about garda malpractice to the Garda Commissioner's office between 2008 and 2010 when he was serving in the division in question.

He reported the various incidents to the garda's confidential recipient and to the human resources department in garda headquarters in the Phoenix Park.

The commissioner's office is believed to have investigated the allegations and reported no evidence of wrongdoing.

Two whistleblowers made contact with the four TDs in relation to penalty point terminations and both were barred from speaking to the media by the Garda Commissioner in recent weeks.

The whistleblower that compiled the penalty point dossier has instructed his solicitor to lodge the second damning report with the High Court in the coming weeks.

The report shows hundreds of incidents where motorists were stopped by gardai, found to have no insurance and had their car seized but would later have the charge quashed on official records.

A number of public order offences outside nightclubs were registered but also later changed to show that there was no case answerable to by the offender.

In the report, he alleges that minor drug offences were also recorded in the pulse system but no summonses were sent to the offender and, again, the records were altered to suggest there was no case.

He also alleges that a disqualified driver who was stopped with no insurance was at first marked as "detected" on the system but later it was changed to "undetected".

Another driver was caught speeding five times in one year and on each occasion the penalty points were cancelled, the whistleblower claims.

The report also claims the pulse system recorded a garda raid on a bar were 40 people were found drinking "fresh drinks" at 2.40am. However, no summons was issued to the owners and the pulse system was altered to include the comment "liquor licence inspection of premises, no offences disclosed".

A spokesman for the Department of Justice said: "The minister has been assured by the Garda Commissioner that An Garda Siochana are satisfied that proper procedures are in place to deal with any concerns individual members of the force may have.

"Furthermore, as a solicitor acting on behalf of a garda sergeant has written to the minister regarding a number of allegations that seem to be similar to the matters referred to in the press query and as these allegations are currently the subject of correspondence between the Department of Justice and Equality and the solicitor in question, it would not be appropriate to comment further on the matter at this point in time."

Sunday Independent

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