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Tuesday 22 October 2019

Just one more thing, Inspector....

Retired Detective Inspector Patrick Marry. Photo: Mark Condren
Retired Detective Inspector Patrick Marry. Photo: Mark Condren
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

When Pat Marry examined crime scenes, part of his methodology involved just being still. The retired detective inspector describes it as entering a "sort of meditative state", immersing himself in the detail of his surroundings, tuning in to the victim to try to pick up a sense of what had happened. The victim has all the answers, he says, but you have to ask the right questions.

"You have to immerse yourself in an investigation. If you don't, it won't be solved," says Marry.

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Marry comes across as a hard-boiled detective but with a gentle touch - a stickler for old school detail infused with a twist of intuition. You could call it mindful policing.

His favourite screen detectives are Columbo, because he is "so pernickety", and the lead character in the ITV series about the young Inspector Morse, Endeavour, because he is smart. In his own career, Marry valued empathy. "Empathy is a big thing that an investigator should have. If you don't have that, you may not become as connected to the investigation as you should," he says.

He retired as detective inspector last summer after 33 years with An Garda Siochana, most of it based in Dublin and Louth. He has written a book, The Making of a Detective, which is published by Penguin Ireland this week. The book charts his progression from rookie garda to detective inspector, taking in many high-profile investigations - and less famous but equally fascinating ones - along the way.

Many of the cases are of women murdered by men. The murder of Rachel O'Reilly is one he will remember. He describes her husband, Joe, her killer, as a controlling and deluded psychopath. He wasn't the only one to cross Marry's path. He travelled to Spain to arrest Colin Whelan for the murder of his wife, Mary Gough. Whelan killed her six months after their wedding, having doubled her life insurance policy beforehand. When gardai started asking questions, Whelan staged his suicide and fled.

The murders of two colleagues in the Louth division struck closer to home: Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe in 2013 and Tony Golden two years later. Adrian Donohoe had been a close colleague of Marry's at Dundalk station. "The night, that happened, everyone was on the brink of crying or breaking down. You could see it in everybody there. It was a huge blow, an unbelievable event," he said. Marry was the senior investigating officer on the case. He vowed to retire once a suspect was charged with Detective Garda Donohoe's murder, a development that happened last year.

Police work takes its toll on personal lives and on relationships. "You are away from your family a lot," he says. "When you are home, you sometimes bring home stuff in your head, and that's not good."

His own marriage broke down a number of years ago. He is in a new relationship and, already the father of two adored girls, he has become a father to a third daughter. His one-year-old is the "absolute light of my life". He has moved to Westmeath, started a new investigation business and now has time for voluntary work in his community. "Being a policeman, you get to see a good slice of what life is about," he says. "I have seen quite a lot and now it makes me appreciate the simple things in life."

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