Garda launches High Court challenge to halt internal inquiry after assault allegations were struck out
A Garda, against whom allegations that he assaulted a man in custody had been struck out in the District Court, today launched a High Court challenge aimed at halting an internal Garda Board Inquiry into the incident.
The action was brought by Garda Declan O Connor who has been a member of the force since 1997 and is currently based at Blackrock Garda Station, Co Dublin.
O’Connor was allegedly involved on June 20, 2012 in an altercation at Blackrock Garda Station with a man who had earlier been arrested by several other gardai, following a complaint by security staff at Seapoint DART station that he had been violent and abusive.
The man claimed he had been assaulted by O’Connor while in detention and made an official complaint which was investigated by the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission, which recommended Garda O'Connor be prosecuted for assault.
Mr Justice Max Barrett heard heard that in the District Court in September 2013 the charge had been struck out by the judge hearing the case after the complainant withdrew his co-operation in the prosecution.
Barrister Mark Harty SC, counsel for Garda O'Connor, said it was his client's belief that once the District Court prosecution had been concluded that should have been the end of the matter.
Mr Harty said GSOC then decided to investigate the matter further to see if there had been a breach by Garda O'Connor of Garda Regulations and as a result of that decision an internal Garda Board of Inquiry had been set up to consider Garda O'Connor's conduct on the night of the arrest. The Board was due to sit on October 1st.
Counsel said the internal investigation now being conducted was legally flawed and should not be allowed to continue. Proper regard had not been given to the fact that the criminal case had been struck out.
Mr Harty said the Garda Commissioner, by establishing an internal board of inquiry, had erred in law and had acted beyond his powers and in breach of fair procedures.
O’Connor is seeking to judicially review the decision and wants the court to restrain the Commissioner from conducting any inquiry into his alleged conduct on June 20th 2012.
Judge Barrett granted leave to bring the challenge and adjourned the matter to a date in November. A stay was placed on the Board of Inquiry from continuing with its investigation pending the outcome of the High Court action.