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Sunday 18 February 2018

Watchdog probes supergrass case

Dearbhail McDonald and Brian McDonald

THE Garda Ombudsman is considering holding a full public inquiry into the conduct of senior gardai who handled a 'supergrass' murder suspect.

Lawyers for the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) yesterday applied for the full transcript of the John 'Champers' Carroll murder trial, which concluded earlier this month.

A Dublin man was found guilty of the 2009 murder of father-of-three John "Champers" Carroll in the city, following the three-month-long trial.

Two other men were found not guilty, while the jury could not agree on a fourth defendant. The Director of Public Prosecutions will shortly decide if he should be retried.

The Carroll murder trial was built around the word of only one man, Joseph O'Brien, who admitted taking part in the murder and was run "off the books" as an informant for almost five years by gardai.

O'Brien (26), who was granted immunity from prosecution, was the State's chief witness in the trial and has been in the Witness Security Programme for more than two years.

In his charge to the jury, Judge White noted that after O'Brien had been arrested on suspicion of murder, he secured two "private audiences" with Det Sgt Whitelaw and Supt Browne.

The judge said the senior officers had twice disregarded the rules calling for the videotaping of interviews and so he could not know who raised the issues of the Witness Security programme and immunity, including if any inducements had been given.

The Garda Commissioner has said that he will "await the full outcome of all proceedings" before he decides whether to hold an internal inquiry.

Irish Independent

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