Gardai 'refused protection plea for tragic Baiba'

Tim Healy

GARDA protection had been sought for murdered mum-of-two Baiba Saulite before her death but it was refused, the High Court has heard.

Ms Saulite was shot by a lone man as she stood in the hallway of her home at Holywell Square in Swords in November 2006. Her sons aged three and five were asleep upstairs, while her husband was in prison at the time awaiting sentence arising from a complaint by her.

In a case taken by a garda involved in the abduction investigation, the High Court was yesterday told in evidence that the innocent mum told gardai she feared for her life. Garda protection was sought for the woman, but refused.

Garda Declan Nyhan told the court how he was devastated when he was blamed for allegedly having information which indicated a risk to the life of Ms Saulite.

Garda Nyhan, who was later cleared in a garda disciplinary investigation, said he was singled out. The officer, who is attached to Swords Garda Station, has sued the garda authorities for alleged bullying and harassment, claiming he suffered psychological damage as a result of his treatment at work following the murder.

The garda, who had been involved in the successful prosecution with Sgt Liam Hughes of Ms Saulite's husband Hassan Hassan in relation to the abduction, said he and Sgt Hughes had met her on November 14, 2006, at Swords Garda Station.

Ms Saulite gave handwritten pages to Sgt Hughes and he advised her on making a new one and the original was placed in a locker. Garda Nyhan said he never read the report.

When he went to work the day after Ms Saulite was murdered Sgt Hughes showed him the victim impact statement, in which a line read "I am scared for my life because Hassan is blaming me for what is going on in his life."

In June 2007, Garda Nyhan said a disciplinary charge was laid before him that he had possession of information or documents and ought to have known of the real risk to Ms Saulite's life and that he allegedly failed to take appropriate measures.

In March 2008 he relayed his concerns to the disciplinary investigation team.

"There were threats known to the Garda Siochana in relation to Baiba Saulite. It was somebody else who had made the mistake, not myself, which ultimately lead to the situation which caused her death," Garda Nyhan said. He said he and Sgt Hughes were later cleared.

Garda Nyhan said senior management knew about threats to kill Ms Saulite.

The case continues.