Monday 18 December 2017

Former garda brings legal action against his sacking over drugs search

Aodhan O'Faolain

A FORMER garda found to have breached discipline by failing to submit to a drug search at a concert when he was off duty has brought a High Court challenge against a decision to sack him from the force.

Patrick Walsh who spent 20 years in the force has brought proceedings arising out of his dismissal against the Garda Commissioner and the members of an internal Garda Appeal Board which affirmed a previous decision of a Garda Board of inquiry that Mr Walsh had engaged in discreditable conduct.

Earlier this year an internal garda inquiry found Mr Walsh guilty of having breached discipline following an incident at the Electric Picnic concert at Stradbally Hall, Stradbally, Co Laois in early September 2007 when was stopped by security men at the event.

It was claimed he refused to submit to a search. It was further alleged that when a struggle ensued between Mr Walsh and a bouncer, a bag containing drugs was allegedly thrown and landed in a nearby bin. It was then allegedly retrieved by a security man.

Mr Walsh denied the bag belonged to him and when uniformed officers intervened during the incident, he was brought to another location where he refused to undergo a search after being directed to do so by a garda sergeant.

Mr Walsh was subsequently charged with having 6.4g of amphetamine and was acquitted by Judge Gerard Haughton in the district court in November 2008. However garda disciplinary proceedings were commenced against him.

In February 2012 a Garda Board of Inquiry found Mr Walsh guilty of two breaches of garda discipline on the date in question that he engaged in discreditable conduct by failing to submit to a legal drug search and that he engaged in improper practice. On each count a recommendation was made that he be dismissed.

He appealed those findings to a three person Appeal Board which last July upheld a finding that Mr Walsh had engaged in discreditable conduct, but quashed the finding in relation to alleged improper practice.

The Appeal Board informed Mr Walsh it was making a recommendation to the Commissioner that he be dismissed.

In his High Court action Mr Walsh, from Nenagh in Co Tipperary, is seeking an order from the court quashing the decision of the Garda Commissioner on August 23 last to dismiss him from the force. He is also seeking an order quashing the appeals boards decision of August 20th last recommending his dismissal.

Leave to bring the challenge was granted, on an ex-parte basis, by Mr Justice John Hedigan who made the matter returnable to a date in December.

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