Sunday 20 January 2019

Corrupt garda sent forged invoice to UCC for extra policing fees

Defendant had gambling addiction that ‘spiralled out of control’

John O’Halloran. Photo: Cork Courts Limited
John O’Halloran. Photo: Cork Courts Limited

Ralph Riegel

A garda with a chronic gambling addiction admitted corruption charges as it emerged he had set up an unsanctioned Garda advice clinic at a university and sent forged invoices to a student's union for providing extra policing services.

John O'Halloran (47), who resigned as a garda last November, pleaded guilty before Cork Circuit Criminal Court to corruption, theft and fraud.

Judge Sean O Donnabháin was told an analysis of the garda's accounts revealed he had gambled €150,000 online between 2009 and 2014.

The judge adjourned sentencing until today to allow him to consider expert reports on the matter.

Inspector Fergal Foley said the defendant suffered from a chronic gambling addiction.

"The gambling reached epidemic proportions (in 2014). It had spiralled out of control.

"A significant number of people expressed to us the hope that he would deal with his demons."

Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard that an investigation was launched after a woman from the Connacht Avenue Residents Association (CARA) complained that €5,500 had been loaned to the garda, but he had then refused to pay it back.

Gda O'Halloran, based at Barrack Street garda station, worked as a community officer in the area involved.

Inspector Foley said his investigation reached a point where he believed it was a criminal rather than a Garda disciplinary matter.

The subsequent investigation revealed Gda O'Halloran had set up a Garda advice clinic in University College Cork (UCC) without the knowledge or permission of his superiors.

He had also issued invoices, on forged Garda Síochána notepaper, for the provision of extra policing services around UCC and the College Road during rag week and refreshers week.

Templates for these fake invoices were subsequently found on a memory stick in Gda O'Halloran's personal station locker.

More than €7,300 was paid on foot of the fake invoices - all of which he used for his own personal purposes.

Monies were paid in the belief it was for extra policing services provided by Gda O'Halloran - despite the fact that he had been detailed to provide these same services by his superiors.

The investigation also revealed that Gda O'Halloran had changed his father's pension arrangements so that the funds were paid directly into his own account.

The garda's father died in 2011 - but his pension payments continued to be paid until 2014.

The payments continued on foot of a document signed and stamped from Angelsea Street garda station on March 17, 2012 - by a garda who was not based at the station.

The €11,817 involved has been repaid as has the €5,500 loan.

"The thing that is troubling me it is the fact that as a garda, over a period of time, he used that in a determined and calculated way to dupe people," the judge said.

"He was using his status as a garda to get money for policing."

Judge O Donnabháin noted that the defendant had lost his job, been publicly disgraced, had lost a pension payment of €80,000 and had also seen his marriage break up.

"Is there any colder place than that of a disgraced garda?" the judge said.

Defence counsel Ronan Munro SC said his client was deeply remorseful.

"He is deeply ashamed for having tarnished the good name of An Garda Síochána," he said.

"His marriage is gone, his profession is gone. Every single penny he had was gambled."

Irish Independent

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