Friday 23 February 2018

Jail time 'inevitable' for garda guilty of harassing State solicitor, court told

Eve Doherty (49), a Dublin based garda, arrives at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today. She has been found guilty to the harassment of Elizabeth Howlin, who worked in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) at the time Pic Collins Courts
Eve Doherty (49), a Dublin based garda, arrives at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today. She has been found guilty to the harassment of Elizabeth Howlin, who worked in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) at the time Pic Collins Courts

Isabel Hayes

A detective who was found guilty of harassing a State solicitor by sending her abusive letters and emails is facing an “inevitable” custodial sentence, a judge has said.

In Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today, Judge Melanie Greally ordered that Eve Doherty (50) be placed into custody next Monday ahead of her sentencing in January next year, noting she has shown no remorse for her actions.

“A custodial sentence of some sort is inevitable,” Judge Greally said, setting a sentence date of January 19 next year.

Doherty, with an address in Blackglen Road, Sandyford, Dublin, was found guilty by a jury of harassing Elizabeth Howlin between September 2011 and March 2013 following a two-week trial last July.

She was found not guilty of two counts of making false statements on two dates in March 2012, in which she claimed Ms Howlin was perverting the course of justice.

At the time in question, Ms Howlin worked with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) where she was involved in deciding whether or not to direct prosecutions in criminal cases. Doherty held the position of detective sergeant and worked in the crime and security division of An Garda Siochana.

The trial heard that over an 18-month period, letters and emails were sent to Ms Howlin's home, her place of work and to her GP calling her a “corrupt bitch”, an “incompetent useless hobbit” and a “two-faced bitch”.

The court heard Ms Howlin didn't know Doherty until the trial and that Doherty was then in a relationship with the victim's ex-partner. A victim impact statement was handed into court from Ms Howlin, but was not read out.

Kerida Naidoo SC, prosecuting, said Doherty sent emails from a Dublin city centre internet cafe to hundreds of recipients using anonymous email accounts. The court heard she holds a degree in Cybercrime and diplomas in Psychology and Legal Studies.

Following a garda investigation that involved contacting the Canadian email server company, Hushnet, gardaí tracked down the internet cafe from which the emails were being sent. Doherty was arrested after she sent an anonymous email from the cafe while wearing sunglasses and a wig.

As well as letters and emails, Doherty dispensed leaflets around Ms Howlin's housing estate, falsely claiming that Ms Howlin was a political appointee and that she would “pull” files to prevent the prosecution of anyone connected to her or the government. Ms Howlin is a distant cousin of the TD and labour party leader, Brendan Howlin.

Doherty was suspended from An Garda Siochana but is currently still a serving member of the force, the court heard. After her arrest, she spent a month in St John of God psychiatric hospital. She has no previous convictions.

Defence counsel, Michael O'Higgins SC, said Doherty had a “singular ambition” to become a garda and she rose through the ranks to the level of detective sergeant. “It was a job and a career which, for the most part, she found enriching and rewarding,” Mr O'Higgins said.

He said Doherty had a difficult work environment and had some “fractious” relationships within the job, due in part to her “complete lack of diplomacy” with regard to her thoughts on how things were run.

A13-page psychological report was handed into court, which found Doherty suffered from severe work-related stress, depression, anxiety, paranoia and suicidal ideation. She suffers from nightmares, insomnia, headaches and chest pain and is on anti-depressant medication, the court heard.

“This is not something that can be explained simply by malice or badness,” Mr O'Higgins said, adding it was a “complicated” case involving psychological issues.

He said the offence was committed by a person who was suffering from depression, paranoia and significant levels of stress. “That goes some way in my submission to analysing the content and understanding it better,” he said.

Mr O'Higgins said the content of the material was “nasty” but he urged Judge Greally to also consider Doherty's prior “exemplary” character.

A number of character references were handed up in court, including one from a retired detective sergeant who worked with Doherty.The court heard she loves dogs and has been involved in dog rescues in the past.

“She has a good and productive life and she has done good and productive things,” Mr O'Higgins said. “She has spread great kindness in her life to other people.”

He asked Judge Greally to consider imposing a community service sentence, but Judge Greally rejected this, noting there were two very important elements lacking from the sentence hearing.

“They are the lack of a plea of guilty and a lack of any evident remorse for her actions,” the judge said.

She said she would give Doherty a few days to organise her affairs and ordered that she be remanded in custody on Monday morning.

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