Wednesday 16 January 2019

Man's death after assault now treated as homicide

Gardai reclassify Romanian attack victim's case after police in his country open murder probe

Gardai have upgraded 12 cases to homicide. Stock photo
Gardai have upgraded 12 cases to homicide. Stock photo
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Gardai upgraded the death of a Romanian man to homicide after police in the victim's home country launched a murder investigation into the man's killing.

The case is one of the 12 deaths reclassified as homicides on the Garda's Pulse computer system, following an internal review.

Virgil Busa died in Blanchardstown Hospital, in Dublin, after he had jumped from a window following a serious assault in Navan in 2014.

A post-mortem failed to conclusively link the attack to his death, according to sources, and the case was filed as an assault on the Pulse system.

However, Romanian police asked to take over the case from gardai, as the suspects involved, also Romanian, were of interest to them. Romanian police subsequently launched a murder investigation.

It is understood that the classification of Mr Busa's case on the Pulse system was flagged by analysts during an internal review of over 500 domestic deaths between 2013 and 2015.

The case is believed to be one of 12 that was eventually upgraded on the system to homicide. Garda management insisted that, even though they were misclassified, the homicides were investigated properly.

The 12 cases reclassified as homicide are now the subject of a second internal review to ensure they were appropriately investigated. This review is also examining the recording of homicide data from 2003 to 2016.

Garda crime figures are due to come under scrutiny again this week with the force's management expected to appear before the Policing Authority and an Oireachtas committee on the issue.

The Policing Authority is expected to question Garda management about progress on its latest review of homicide data which, as previously reported by the Sunday Independent, has unearthed some worrying findings.

The review is believed to have identified more than 200 people who died as a result of homicide over the 13-year period, but who were not officially recorded as 'deceased' on Pulse.

In a small number of these cases, the review found that detectives had input intelligence on victims who were actually dead.

The review is also believed to have identified more than 100 people who were listed on the system under road traffic fatalities but who were not officially recorded as deceased on Pulse.

The intelligence is thought to have included purported sightings or movements of homicide victims who were not actually recorded as deceased on the system.

The CSO suspended its publication of crime statistics last year because of concerns about errors in the raw crime data supplied to it by An Garda Siochana.

It resumed publishing the statistics last month, but "with reservations" about the quality of data that extended beyond homicides.

The review of crime figures began in 2016, in the midst of the controversy over inflated Garda breath test figures. The review focused on more than 500 domestic deaths between 2013 and 2015 because of concerns that they were not being captured properly on the system.

It flagged 41 cases for further investigation, with 12 eventually upgraded to homicide. They had originally been recorded as more minor crimes, including non-fatal assaults.

The families of the 12 people whose deaths were reclassified as homicide have all been contacted by An Garda Siochana.

Sunday Independent

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