Monday 11 December 2017

Sacked garda gets job back after AG calls for end to probe

Garda John Kelly: won his Supreme Court appeal
Garda John Kelly: won his Supreme Court appeal

Greg Harkin

A GARDA who won a Supreme Court appeal over his dismissal for misconduct has returned to work after the Attorney General advised an end to all investigations, the Irish Independent has learnt.

Gda John Kelly, stationed at Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim, had served 27 years in the force before his dismissal in August 2011. He reported for duty at district headquarters in Sligo last week. He will begin a re-training programme at the station from today, normal procedure for an officer out of the force for more than two years.

Gda Kelly, from Strandhill, Co Sligo, had strenuously denied several allegations and won his Supreme Court case which left the State with estimated legal costs of €450,000.

Gda Commissioner Martin Callinan sought legal advice from Attorney General Maire Whelan after the ruling in which three judges ordered gardai to give Gda Kelly a new hearing.

However, legal advice from Ms Whelan was that a new hearing should not go ahead and Gda Kelly has been reinstated in the force.

Gda Kelly was originally dismissed over an allegedly false statement he made after he conducted an after-hours inspection of Monica's Bar in Drumshanbo.

Earlier this month the three-judge Supreme Court granted his appeal against the High Court's rejection of his challenge to that dismissal and ruled a new internal garda appeals hearing will have to take place.

One judge commented at the Supreme Court case that Drumshanbo may seem "a tidy, quiet and even sleepy place" but "certainly was not such" around 3.30am on Sunday, September 20, 2009, when Gda Kelly claimed he found several people drinking in Monica's pub.

It sparked off events ultimately leading to his dismissal, Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell said when the court overturned the dismissal.

Monica McGourty, wife of Paddy McGourty, the proprietor of Monica's, became so incensed after Gda Kelly spoke to the couple, that she walked around the town and sat outside another bar apparently to make the point other pubs were still operating at that hour, Mr Justice O'Donnell said.

The Supreme Court ruled a Garda Board of Inquiry failed to give reasons for recommending Gda Kelly's dismissal and directed the board to give him those reasons before his fresh appeal.

Neither the Board of Inquiry nor a Garda Appeals Board had explained their respective decisions in favour of dismissal "in even the most rudimentary way", Mr Justice O'Donnell said, in a judgment with which Chief Justice Susan Denham and Mr Justice Frank Clarke agreed.


The judge said the "remarkable" fact was Gda Kelly was dismissed after the Appeals Board applied some unknown test to facts which remain unclear.

Not only did Gda Kelly not know what view the Board of Inquiry took of the facts, he did not know what the Appeals Board thought the inquiry had decided concerning the facts.

The case arose out of events on September 20, 2009, when Gda Kelly approached a taxi waiting for customers inside the bar at around 3.30am.

It was two weeks after Paddy McGourty was convicted, following a prosecution initiated by Gda Kelly, in the District Court of having people on the premises after licensing hours.

Gda Kelly said he had found Mr McGourty, his wife and seven customers inside.

However, a sergeant later wrote to a garda inspector complaining Gda Kelly had not answered certain questions and recommended no prosecution.

During that investigation, some people who admitted being in Monica's denied Gda Kelly entered the premises while the taxi driver said he had seen Gda Kelly enter the front door.

An examination of his notebook showed information concerning that night was written with two different pens.

A board of inquiry later upheld six allegations of misconduct against Gda Kelly, including falsehood in statements provided by him.

A garda spokesman said the force "doesn't discuss internal disciplinary proceedings".

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