Wednesday 25 April 2018

Argument between garda and partner led to 999 call, whistleblower tribunal told

Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison and Marisa Simms leave the Charleton tribunal at Dublin Castle yesterday. Photo: Paddy Cummins
Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison and Marisa Simms leave the Charleton tribunal at Dublin Castle yesterday. Photo: Paddy Cummins

Gerard Cunningham

Lawyers for the partner of a Garda whistleblower have given details to the Charleton tribunal of an argument that led to a 999 call in April 2013.

In its current module, the tribunal is investigating contacts between An Garda Síochána, Tusla, the child and family agency, and Garda Keith Harrison.

Tribunal chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton had asked lawyers to clarify details of an incident which led to a Garda patrol car being sent to the house in Churchill, Co Donegal, where Gda Harrison and Marisa Simms lived, in the early hours of April 1, 2013.

In a statement to gardaí in October 2013, Ms Simms said Gda Harrison was "out of control", and she was pulled by her arm from her bed and pushed out the front door in her pyjamas. She later withdrew this statement.

"There was certainly a row in the sense that there was an argument between these two," Hugh Hartnett SC said, responding to questions from the tribunal chairman. Mr Hartnett represents Ms Simms at the tribunal.

"Certainly voices were raised by both parties and there is no doubt about that," he said.

The barrister said a duvet was pulled off the bed, but Ms Simms was not pulled out of the bed by her arm.

"She went out onto the street in her pyjamas and a coat over them, as she awaited the arrival of Mr (Jim) Quinn," Mr Hartnett said.

Mr Quinn, a self-employed counsellor, earlier said that he travelled to Churchill after receiving a telephone call from Gda Harrison. He said he was not confused about who had called him, and that the phone call had been from Gda Harrison, not Ms Simms.

Mr Hartnett said when Ms Simms was contacted by the Garda Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) her reaction had been to withdraw her statement.

The barrister also said Gda Harrison did not bang a dashboard with his fist, but "there was a throwing of keys against the dashboard".

He said the statement Ms Simms had made to gardaí was "intrusive and unnecessary".

Mark Harty SC said that it was not Gda Harrison's position that Garda HQ had directed Tusla to investigate him, but that such a direction could have come from gardaí in Donegal.

William Bogle said that in the early hours of April 1, 2013, he received a telephone call from his sister Rita McDermott, mother of Ms Simms.

As a result, he telephoned the Garda concerned about his niece's safety.

A recording of the 999 call was played, during which Mr Bogle said Ms Simms was living with "a garda in Donegal town" and he was "giving her awful abuse".

Mr Bogle's daughter was also heard on the call, saying that Gda Keith Harrison was "being very aggressive and he's chasing after her".

Mr Bogle also called Letterkenny garda station, where he spoke to Garda Tina Fowley.

Questioned by Mr Harty, for Gda Harrison, Mr Bogle agreed he had no factual information, and was relaying to gardaí hearsay he had received from Mrs McDermott.

Mr Harty told the tribunal that his instructions were that following a disagreement, Ms Simms indicated that she wished to go back and stay at her mother's house, and because both he and Ms Simms had been drinking and could not drive, Gda Harrison rang Mr Quinn, who collected her and brought her to her mother's house.

The tribunal continues.

Irish Independent

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