Saturday 19 October 2019

GSOC launches probe into death of Regency investigator

Det-Supt Colm Fox. Photo: Collins
Det-Supt Colm Fox. Photo: Collins
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has begun an investigation into the death of a senior garda following the dramatic collapse of the Regency murder trial.

Det Supt Colm Fox, who led the investigation, was found dead in tragic circumstances at his office at Ballymun Garda Station in Dublin in February of last year.

His death was not treated as suspicious, but was referred by gardaí to the ombudsman in line with procedure.

However, a full scale investigation did not get underway at the time as the trial of Patrick Hutch for the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in February 2016 had yet to conclude.

The case ended today after the State withdrew the charge against Mr Hutch and he was released.

In a statement, GSOC said it was aware of the ongoing trial at the time of Det Supt Fox’s death.

“GSOC has kept a watching brief while the court proceedings continued,” the statement said.

“In light of today’s decision of the DPP to enter a nolle prosequi in the trial, GSOC has moved from an examination under section 91 of the Garda Síochána Act to an investigation into the circumstances giving rise to the death of the late Det Supt Fox.”

The statement went on to say GSOC’s ability to conduct a proper oversight investigation would be dependent on the cooperation given to GSOC by the gardaí and other agencies.

“Given the limited resources of GSOC, considerable cooperation from all parties involved will be required for an effective investigation to take place,” the statement said.

“GSOC is conscious that behind the events which have given rise to this investigation, families and friends continue to mourn the deaths loved ones.”

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has asked Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to conduct a review in light of the trial’s collapse.

“I have noted the decision of the DPP not to pursue the prosecution in this trial.  While this is of course very disappointing, it is a matter for the DPP who is fully independent in the course of her duties,” said Mr Flanagan.

“Following a personal tragedy at the centre of this case, an experienced senior officer was appointed last year by the then acting commissioner to review the case and liaise with the DPP and to keep the court informed of progress.  I have asked the Garda Commissioner to undertake a review to ascertain what lessons learned from the collapse of this trial.”

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