Monday 18 December 2017

Lawyer accuses garda of lying in 'dishonest and disreputable fashion' about Paul Murphy's actions

Paul Murphy TD (34) Kingswood Heights, Tallaght, arrives at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court Pic Collins Courts
Paul Murphy TD (34) Kingswood Heights, Tallaght, arrives at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court Pic Collins Courts

Isabel Hayes

A garda has been accused of lying "in a dishonest and disreputable fashion" about Solidarity TD Paul Murphy's actions on the day of the water protest.

Sean Guerin SC, defending Mr Murphy, suggested to Garda Gavin Cooke that he had deliberately toned down his "false" evidence in a "cowardly" way, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard today.

Garda Cooke rejected the claims while giving evidence on day 13 of the trial of Mr Murphy (34).

Mr Murphy along with South Dublin Councillors Michael Murphy (53) and Kieran Mahon (39) and four other men have pleaded not guilty to falsely imprisoning Ms Burton and her advisor Karen O'Connell by restricting their personal liberty without their consent at Fortunestown Road, Jobstown, Tallaght on November 15, 2014.

The two women were attending a graduation ceremony at An Cosán adult education centre in Jobstown when anti-water charges protestors began demonstrating around them. They were trapped in cars for about three hours, the trial has heard.

Gda Cooke was on duty on the day and the driver of the first car Ms Burton and Ms O'Connell remained in at a local church for about an hour, the trial heard. At one point, Gda Cooke described seeing Paul Murphy on a microphone "doing different things".

Under cross-examination from Mr Guerin, he said he saw Mr Murphy directing people where to stand.

The court was then shown CCTV footage from the relevant period, which Mr Guerin said to Gda Cooke “gives the lie to your evidence”.

“You weren't even in the church grounds for most of the time Mr Murphy was there,” Mr Guerin said.

Gda Cooke said he didn't see Mr Murphy in the CCTV footage, but said: "I'm clear as to seeing Mr Murphy that day."

"What you're telling the jury is that you saw something that couldn't have happened," Mr Guerin said.

He put it to Gda Cooke that as well as saying in his statement that Mr Murphy was directing people, he also gave evidence to that effect in another case in the District Court when Mr Murphy was not on trial.

Mr Guerin said Gda Cooke then tried to "tone down" his evidence in this trial by initially saying he saw Mr Murphy doing "different things".

"I suggest to you not only did you deliberately falsify your account of what happened, you gave false evidence in the District Court and (moved) away from your falsehood in a dishonest and disreputable fashion because you knew your statement was false," Mr Guerin said.

"That's not true," Gda Cooke replied. He said he gave a true statement and has always spoken the truth in court.

Mr Guerin said: "The reason you gave a false statement was you wanted to establish Paul Murphy was guilty of an offence. You knew his peaceful actions on the day would not be sufficient. You wanted to make him responsible for the behaviour of other people."

Gda Cooke denied this was the case.

Under questioning from prosecution barrister Tony McGillicuddy BL, Gda Cooke described how the protesters were shouting "vile" language as they surrounded the car. He said after helping to move Ms Burton and Ms O'Connell from the car to the jeep, he saw two gardaí being assaulted by protesters.

He said he received "two boxes in the back of the head".

Paul Murphy of Kingswood Heights, Tallaght; Kieran Mahon of Holbrook Grove, Tallaght; Michael Murphy of Whitechurch Way, Ballyboden, Dublin; Frank Donaghy (71) of Alpine Rise, Tallaght; Ken Purcell (50) of Kiltalown Green, Tallaght; Michael Banks (46) of Brookview Green, Tallaght and Scott Masterson (34) of Carrigmore Drive, Tallaght have denied the charges.

The trial continues before Judge Melanie Greally and a jury.

Earlier, the trial heard that gardaí investigating the case did not take any statements from protester witnesses and cancelled house-to-house enquiries.

Defence barrister, Michael O'Higgins SC, cross-examined Inspector Garda Derek Maguire about the investigation. The court heard there were 57 civilian witness statements in the case, as well as 180 garda statements.

Civilian witnesses included staff from An Cosán, where the graduation ceremony was taking place, graduates and guests at the ceremony, political staff from Ms Burton's office and journalists who were at the scene.

Everyone in An Cosán, "from the CEO down to the cleaner" was spoken to by gardaí, Mr O'Higgins, representing Ken Purcell, said.

But there were no statements from any protesters who were there, the court heard.

When asked why there were no statements from protesters, Insp Maguire said “We don't know who they all are”. He added that he didn't believe any protester witnesses came forward.

Mr O'Higgins put it to Insp Maguire that this was a “significant investigation”. He said it was “nonsensical” to suggest that gardaí wouldn't have been able to identify protesters. “This is 2017,” he said, adding there are cameras everywhere.

“The idea that in this day and age, people couldn't be identified...in a small local community like Tallaght is nonsensical,” he said.

Insp Maguire responded that it was “not nonsensical”. “Their name doesn't pop up on the camera,” he said. “You still have to identify them.”

The court heard that according to garda case notes from the day of the protest, 'house-to-house enquiries' was listed as the fourth job on the list. However, it was then marked as 'cancelled'.

Insp Maguire said he didn't know why house-to-house inquiries were cancelled or why some statements weren't taken. It was possible some people were approached and refused to give statements, he said.

Mr O'Higgins said there was a record of six people who refused to give statements. One of these, a local councillor, was described in garda notes as having sat down on the ground “momentarily” during the protest.

Garda notes went on to say the man “was advised if he was to make a statement it would be a cautioned statement”, the court heard.

There was “no documented instances” of any protester being invited to make an “uncautioned statement”, Mr O'Higgins said.

"Would they have complained about the way the guards treated then?" Mr O'Higgins said. "Would they have complained they were manhandled by guards? That they were being bullied by guards, that the guards started it?"

Insp Maguire said he could not speculate on what witnesses may have said.

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