Tuesday 17 September 2019

Judge says he's 'puzzled and bemused' by claims about 'drugs, goats and cattle'

Stock photo
Stock photo
John Downing

John Downing

Judge Peter Charleton intervened to conclude that Sergeant Maurice McCabe's uncle and first cousin "just did not get on" with their garda relative.

It was just after 3pm and the tribunal chairman was keen to move on to matters he deemed more central to the job in hand. "Maybe, in the background, there was a dispute about a field or something," the judge ventured.

Mr Justice Charleton noted that Sgt McCabe's uncle, Bernard McCabe, had made allegations ranging "from drugs, to goats, to cattle". He said he read the legal documents "with puzzlement and bemusement" and now he wondered why the proceedings should continue considering this issue.

We were drawing to the close of day two of former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan's cross-examination, and Sgt McCabe's barrister, Michael McDowell, was on the case. The former justice minister and attorney general was keen to examine how much senior Garda time had been spent examining his client's disciplinary record in the force, citing a dossier which dated back to 1992.

So, enter Bernard McCabe, uncle of the sergeant, and Bernard's son.

Bernard McCabe had contacted senior gardaí saying he knew things about the garda sergeant that he wanted to share.

Mr McDowell was keen to point out that two very senior garda officers had been diverted from serious criminal investigations to go and meet the embattled sergeant's relatives. Did Mr Callinan feel uncomfortable or odd about that turn of events?

"Not particularly," the former commissioner replied.

But he equally insisted that he did not have any particular knowledge of such developments at that time in 2013/2014 - nor was he involved in compiling a long dossier on Sgt McCabe's record in the force.

The sergeant's uncle had pointed to a case of two people who allegedly had cases of drink-driving withdrawn due to Sgt McCabe's influence. Subsequent inquiries found one of those people was cited on the Garda system only as having been the victim of a burglary and holding a firearms permit.

The second person was successfully prosecuted for drink-driving back in 2009 in the District Court, but had later successfully appealed that conviction in the Circuit Court. The only garda who tracked the case on the Garda computer system was the prosecuting officer at the time.

Mr McDowell said that, as late as 2017, three years after Mr Callinan had abruptly retired from his post as commissioner, there was documentation showing another senior garda had again met with Sgt McCabe's uncle in a hotel in Cavan.

The paperwork again showed Bernard McCabe was still making "general and vague allegations" against his nephew, and the senior officer suggested he should come back when he had more specific detail.

Mr Callinan insisted he did not order a document to be compiled containing details of human resources and disciplinary matters concerning Sgt McCabe for a meeting which would prepare him for a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting back in January 2014.

Mr McDowell said the document was entitled 'Reports on Sgt Maurice McCabe and retired Garda John Wilson'. It was included in material used in that pre-PAC meeting.

Mr McDowell asked Mr Callinan whether investigators met Sgt McCabe's uncle seeking information to discredit the sergeant. Mr Callinan said this was certainly not the case from his point of view.

Irish Independent

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