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Thursday 18 September 2014

Special needs boy beaten by gardai tried to 'kill himself'

Published 15/05/2014 | 02:30

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Garda Siochana Ombudsman chairman Simon O'Brien spoke at the hearing
Garda Siochana Ombudsman chairman Simon O'Brien spoke at the hearing

A RETIRED doctor has claimed a special needs boy who was stripped naked and whipped in garda custody later tried to take his own life.

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Dr Richard O'Flaherty shocked an Oireachtas Justice Committee hearing when he told members of the horrors he encountered during the course of his work as an on-call GP for garda stations.

However, during his opening statement, he was stopped from telling the full story of a 17-year-old disabled boy who was arrested after he took his father's car without permission.

The Irish Independent has obtained a copy of Dr O'Flaherty's statement, which was given to committee members before his appearance yesterday.

The statement includes shocking allegations, including:

* A young mother recovering from cervical cancer was held in custody for 12 hours.

* A senior officer asked him to change his report on an assault by a garda on a man in custody.

* A woman went into a diabetic coma after she was refused medical attention.

Dr O'Flaherty is a member of victims' support group Justice4all, which the Sunday Independent revealed forwarded 27 signed affidavits of potentially serious complaints to Taoiseach Enda Kenny earlier this year.

Justice Committee chairman David Stanton intervened during the proceedings to ask the doctor to stick to the main purpose of the hearing, which was to put forward recommendations on changes to the Garda Siochana Act.

But Independent TD Finian McGrath said Dr O'Flaherty should be allowed to continue so the committee could hear "human stories".

In his statement, Dr O'Flaherty, who practised as a GP for 40 years, said the disabled youngster was stripped of his "pants and underpants" and left naked in a holding cell.

He alleges the boy told him both male and female gardai laughed as he was whipped with his belt buckle. The doctor claims the boy's father found him the day he was released with a rope and believed he was going to end his life.

Dr O'Flaherty also alleges he was told he would "regret" not altering a medical report on an examination of a man who was beaten up by a garda while in custody.

Meanwhile, Garda Ombudsman director of investigations Ray Leonard did not accept an invitation to appear before the committee, after submitting a damning personal statement condemning his organisation as not fit for purpose.

Complaints

The Irish Independent yesterday revealed Mr Leonard wrote to the committee claiming the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) did not have effective independence.

It is believed Mr Leonard did not think it would be appropriate to attend the hearings because his employer was also addressing the committee.

Speaking at the hearing, GSOC chairman Simon O'Brien said he hoped his organisation would be given powers to investigate the Garda commissioner and receive complaints from serving members of the force.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny this week announced he would strengthen the role of the Garda Ombudsman following the findings of the Guerin Report into garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe's allegations of misconduct in the force.

Irish Independent

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