GRA fury at watchdog for garda's trial

Cormac Byrne

THE GARDA Representative Association has become embroiled in a row with the Garda Ombudsman over their handling of the Garda Brendan Whitty case.

Garda Whitty was acquitted by a Dublin Circuit Criminal jury of assault causing harm to a man in garda custody.

The association has accused the Ombudsman of "excessive" and "oppressive" behaviour over the conduct of the three-year investigation.

The GRA said gardai should not be subject to "unwarranted suffering" if they are forced to use their batons or incapacitant spray.

GRA President Damien McCarthy has called on the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to launch an enquiry into the conduct of certain members of the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission.

The GRA went on to say that on average two gardai are assaulted every day and the verdict is a landmark in the proper balance between garda accountability and practical policing.

The "verdict is a one of common sense, and will enhance the protection for those who protect the public," Mr McCarthy said.

"Society expects gardai to face down and contain every imaginable danger equipped with an anti-stab vest, incapacitant spray and a baton. To do this effectively, gardai also need the protection of the law."

Garda Whitty (29) stationed at Kevin Street Garda Station, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to Mr Keith Murphy on Thomas Street, Dublin 2, on September 20, 2007.

The jury took less than an hour to find Garda Whitty not guilty. It was day six of the trial.

The trial heard how Mr Murphy had died from a drugs overdose and not as a result of the garda's actions.

The jury heard evidence from Garda Whitty yesterday that he had not filed a report on the incident until the next day after he had found out the man had died.

Garda Whitty said that he had not filed out a report detailing the use of his baton that day because his shift was finished and he "did not see the urgency in doing it".

The garda denied a suggestion by prosecuting counsel, Shane Costelloe BL, that he used "far more force than was required".