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The knock that signalled probably the worst day of his life

At 6.30am yesterday, Sean FitzPatrick, former chairman and chief executive of Anglo Irish Bank, began what may well have been the worst day of his life.

A knock on the door of his palatial mansion in Greystones led to his home being searched by detectives from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation (GBFI).

The house would have been searched in minute detail, which means that an officer would rumble the building in a tried and tested systematic manner.

Even the most private and personal places would not escape the gaze of officers.

Mr FitzPatrick would have been shown the warrant issued by a judge of the District Court, who would have heard sworn evidence from a member of the GBFI.

Mr FitzPatrick would have been told of the reasons for his arrest for an offence under the Theft and Fraud Offences Act, and cautioned.

It would be normal practice to handcuff the prisoner at this stage before putting him in the the back of an unmarked car and conveying him to Bray station.

The caution, administered by a senior detective, goes: "You are not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so but that anything you say will be taken down in writing and may be given in evidence."

Mr FitzPatrick would be treated as any other arrested prisoner, be they prince to a pauper.

On arrival he would be taken into the custody suite and processed.

His name, address, date of birth and colour of hair, eyes would be entered in the custody record as well as any peculiarities, such as tattoos or earrings.

His shoe laces, belt and any item that could be used as a ligature would have been taken from him.

His possessions would have been taken and placed in a secure envelope for safe custody for his stay.

He would be then offered the services of a solicitor, which he could avail of or not. He would be able to nominate his own solicitor at his own expense.

At that point the former Anglo boss would have been put in a cell measuring about 10 feet by 12 feet.

These are rather drab places, but kept clean. In the cell is a stand-up toilet, a bed with a basic pillow and a grey blanket to keep the prisoner warm.


Mr FitzPatrick would not have been given any special treatment to that of other prisoners. All would be treated in the same methodical fashion.

Suffice to say it is a long way from a comfortable bed in Greystones, and, for someone who would never have been in such a position in the past, Mr FitzPatrick most likely would have had a disturbed sleep.

Indeed, if gardai at Bray had a busy night, he may well have had company, from a drunk or drugs suspect, or some other class of prisoner.

All his interviews would have been undertaken in a room fitted with audio visual recordings.

The questioning period would last three hours at the time and all the tapes would be removed from the recording machine afterwards.

He would have been asked to select a master tape which would then be sealed in his presence and handed to the sergeant in charge of the station for safe custody.

Two other copies would have been made under the same recording system. After six hours his detention would have been extended for a further six hours by a superintendent and, as is evident now, at the end of that 12 hours it was further extended for another 12 hours.

If he signed the custody record, his period of rest would be suspended between midnight and 8am.

During breaks in interviewing -- between midnight and 8am, he would have kept secure in his cell.

During the night he would have been visited every 15 minutes to ensure his safety and an entry would have been made to that effect in the custody record.

Today, after his detention period expires, he will be either released or charged. Sean FitzPatrick will remember the knock on the door and his period in custody to the day that he leaves this life.

The garda treats all prisoners the same -- status in life means nothing in the quest for the truth.

PJ Browne is a former detective superintendent with over 35 years experience investigation serious crime