Sunday 17 December 2017

Gardai wiped penalty points for driver who was caught speeding seven times

Maurice McCabe
Maurice McCabe


GARDAI repeatedly quashed penalty points for motorists caught driving at speeds of 150 to 190 kilometres per hour.

Documents handed over to the policing watchdog last week by the garda whistleblower, Maurice McCabe, show how "hundreds" of motorists served penalty points for driving offences had penalty points wiped five or six times.

Many were caught driving at speeds of between 150 to 190 kilometres an hour, according to sources, but they still managed to get their penalty points annulled by gardai.

One motorist was caught speeding on seven different occasions over a two-year period, and each time had his penalty points quashed after he appealed to gardai.

Another motorist was caught driving 157 kilometres an hour on a road with a speed limit of 80 kilometres an hour. The driver still got his penalty points removed.

The details are contained in hundreds of documents from the Garda Pulse system.

Mr McCabe handed over the documents to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) last week, as the watchdog began the third official investigation into allegations that gardai were routinely abusing their discretionary powers to remove penalty points for errant drivers.

Sergeant McCabe was interviewed by two GSOC investigators over several days last week.

The Pulse records provide not only the details of the motorists, but also the registration number of the garda who terminated the penalty points.

If the Garda watchdog finds there was corruption or wrongdoing in quashing penalty points for drivers, it can refer cases back to the Garda Commissioner for disciplinary investigation, and it can also forward files to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Independent has learned that Maurice McCabe, a sergeant in Mullingar, and his fellow garda whistleblower, John Wilson, were nominated last week for the People of the Year awards for blowing the lid on alleged garda malpractice.

A member of the public put them forward for the prestigious award for "uncovering malpractices that existed in garda stations". The awards will be announced at a ceremony hosted by Rehab in October.

The proposal to honour of the two garda whistle-blowers contrasts with how the authorities handled their concerns. The former Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, described their actions as "disgusting" while the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, had to apologise after wrongly accusing them of not cooperating with an internal garda inquiry into penalty points abuses.

The two gardai first raised concerns that the penalty points system was being abused in 2012 through a confidential channel for "whistleblowers".

Both gardai claimed they were vilified and sidelined within the force. McCabe's solicitor is currently in talks with the Garda Commissioner, Noirin O'Sullivan, to ensure that he is protected from bullying or harassment.

Sunday Independent

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