Sunday 18 March 2018

Garda sergeant seeks to stop inquiry over fatal accident investigation

Tim Healy

A GARDA sergeant is seeking a High Court order prohibiting a Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) inquiry into his investigation of a fatal accident involving a squad car.

Sgt Andrew Keegan, of Donnybrook Station, has brought proceedings seeking to prohibit the GSOC probe into his (Keegan's) investigation into a road accident on May 22, 2005, when a garda car mounted a footpath and struck 74-year-old grandmother Mary Seavers as she waited at a bus stop on the Clonskeagh Road in Dublin.

Ms Seavers' son David complained to the GSOC that that investigation was inadequate.

The GSOC inquiry is into whether there was a breach of the garda regulations by Sgt Keegan when he carried out his investigation and whether it should result in internal garda disciplinary proceedings being brought against him.

The GSOC is opposing his application.

Sgt Keegan says the GSOC has no lawful entitlement to carry out the investigation and is seeking a prohibition order by way of judicial review or, alternatively, an injunction restraining any further investigation.

Opening Sgt Keegan's case today, Mark deBlacam SC said in August 2005 his client submitted his investigation file into the accident to his superior after which the file went to the DPP who directed no prosecution.

Two years later, in the light of additional evidence, the file went to the DPP again and once more no prosecution was directed, counsel said.

In November 2007, David Seavers made his complaint and the GSOC notified Sgt Keegan in 2008 that it was launching an investigation,

It was initially done on the basis of the GSOC overseeing a new inquiry carried out by a chief superintendent, counsel said.

The GSOC later exercised powers it has under the Garda Siochana Act 2005 to take over the investigation and its (GSOC's) own senior officer, James Costello, was appointed to do so, counsel said.

However, in a conversation between Mr Costello and Sgt Keegan's lawyer about the matter, it was clear to the lawyer that Mr Costello had pre-judged the case, Mr deBlacam said.

Mr Costello also informed Sgt Keegan's solicitor that Mr Seavers'complaint had been held to be inadmissible by the GSOC but that the investigation was being carried out in the public interest, counsel also said.

Having held it was inadmissable, counsel argued, the GSOC had no jurisdiction to take any further action against his client.

Sgt Keegan claims that that because this incident happened prior to the GSOC powers coming into being in May 2007, those powers cannot be applied retrospectively to something that happened in 2005.

The only power is under the Garda Discipline Regulations 1989, which operate as a self contained code, and that rests with the Garda Commissioner, he also says.

The hearing before Mr Justice John Hedigan continues.

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