Tuesday 15 October 2019

New claims that garda interfered in murder probe

Disciplinary findings on 'shredded' statement appealed

Stock photo
Stock photo
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

A garda accused of shredding a witness statement in a murder investigation is facing new allegations of interfering with the case.

The garda was accused earlier this year of destroying an important witness statement relating to the murder investigation to protect an informant. While those claims were being investigated, further allegations emerged that related to "perverting the course of justice", an informed source said.

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The concern is that other potential evidence may also have been withheld. A disciplinary inquiry into the alleged shredding has concluded in recent weeks and the garda is understood to be appealing its findings, the sources said.

He now faces a second disciplinary inquiry into the new allegations of perverting the course of justice.

The garda's identity cannot be disclosed for legal reasons, and the murder at the centre of the allegations cannot be disclosed either.

The case relates to a young man who was murdered by a suspected criminal figure in the garda's division a number of years ago.

The crime has remained unsolved for decades, much to the distress of the victim's family.

The family discovered earlier this year that the potential evidence in their loved one's case may have been withheld from the investigating team.

The issues came to light when a witness came forward to make serious allegations about how this case and others were handled.

The garda was not part of the team that investigated the murder. The allegation against him is that he received a statement in relation to the case but destroyed it to protect an informant.

Gardai are investigating further claims that a second garda was privy to the destruction of the witness statement.

Garda management became concerned about the investigation of the young man's murder and began an internal inquiry that ultimately led to disciplinary proceedings starting against the garda.

A new senior investigating officer has been appointed to the murder.

The case is being "peer reviewed" locally and is expected to be forwarded to the garda's Serious Crime Review team or cold case unit.

The allegations against the garda have not been proven and the disciplinary process is continuing. It is not likely to conclude for several months.

The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission has been made aware of the case.

A spokesman said An Garda Siochana did not comment on ongoing internal disciplinary investigations.

The Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has promised to set up a new unit by the end of the year to investigate allegations of garda wrongdoing such as drug use and inappropriate association with criminals.

The Garda Inspectorate has separately started its own examination of the force's counter-corruption measures to find out how effective the organisation is at preventing and detecting wrongdoing in the force.

Sunday Independent

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