Wednesday 22 November 2017

High Court dismisses claim State failed to live up to promises made to man before he entered witness protection programme

Stock photo
Stock photo

Aodhan O'Faolain

THE High Court has dismissed a man's claim the State failed to live up to promises it made to him before he entered its witness protection programme.

David Mooney, who was a witness in a trial against two men convicted of involvement in organised and subversive crime, sued the Garda Commissioner and the State.

The defendants claimed he "blew" his cover himself and also went to the media with his story.

He alleged a failure to abide by an agreement made when he entered the programme, including failing to give him a new identity, money and relocate him abroad.

The defendants denied the claims.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan dismissed the action and rejected claims he was treated unfairly by the State.

Mr Mooney claimed he was given verbal representations by members of the gardai when he agreed to give evidence against two IRA men convicted in Special Criminal Court (SCC) in November 2003.

They demanded protection money on behalf of the IRA or they would destroy a nightclub business Mr Mooney was involved in, he said.

Due to security concerns he entered the Witness Security Programme (WSP).

He claimed he was promised €600,000, a new identity and relocation to a country of his choice to start a new life.

While he received two payments, he claimed he never got what was promised.

He now fears for his safety and security because he give evidence at the SCC.

He sought various orders including one directing the State to specifically perform the agreement he claimed he had entered into with the gardai.  He also sought damages.

He argued he was duped into signing an agreement to exit the WSP in 2004.

The State said Mr Mooney "blew his cover" on several occasions, and brought about a situation where no host country could be asked to take him.

He also went to the media and exposed his situation, the defendants said.

The defendants said they entered into a final arrangement with Mr Mooney in 2004 subject to ongoing arrangements for his security, and

compensated him for his co-operation.

Mr Justice Gilligan was not satisfied the defendants promised Mr Mooney that, after the trial, he would be going to a specified country with several hundred thousand euro.

Mr Mooney was not induced to enter into any contract by a misrepresentation, he said.

He signed a protocol document in February 2003 admitting him to the WSP but found participation difficult, the judge said.

Mr Mooney, who the judge said is  "very outgoing",  had represented himself to certain people as being a garda, told one person he was part of the WSP, and had given information about his situation to the media.

There was a very serious breakdown in the inter-personal relationship between Mr Mooney and certain gardai, which he described as a "personality clash".

Mr Mooney, he said, failed to comprehend he had to have regard for the terms of the WSP, including he had to change his lifestyle and lie low pending the trial.

The judge also rejected Mr Mooney's claim he had a legitimate expectation he would be given a new identity and be paid money so he could carry on a life outside Ireland.

Any discussion of relocation abroad was completely undermined by his own behaviour.

The judge accepted State evidence Mr Mooney could not be relocated abroad because those running witness protection programmes in other countries would not have accepted him because he ran the risk of exposing their system.

While the threat to Mr Mooney's life may potentially always be there, the State had acknowledged an ongoing obligation to protect Mr Mooney, he said.

However, there was no basis Mr Mooney's claim his right to bodily integrity was infringed, he said.

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