Friday 18 January 2019

Was five months of offending - defence counsel

Defending senior counsel. Kerida Naidoo (with Keith O'Grady BL instructed by Mr Gerard McGovern, solicitor), pleaded that Garda Jimell Henry's offending had lasted for five months and wasn't someone who had been involved in criminal conduct for the entirety of her life.

Mr Naidoo submitted that she did not have any previous convictions this was one of the most important mitigating factors in the case. A five month period of offending was not the totality of her life.

She had become involved in drug use and this pre-dated these offences. She had relationships with people in Sligo which led to her making poor choices, Mr Naidoo told Judge Keenan Johnson.

Henry was offering an apology to the Gardaí and she wished to make it clear they were not blameworthy in any way.

"She was to apologise to the Gardaí and the community she was charged with serving and her own family who were decent and well known with her father being a retired Detective Garda.

"These events have brought untold misery," said Mr Naidoo.

He said that if the case had been fought it would have been a four month trial and the pleas of guilty had substantial value and these should be given significant weight when it comes to imposing the appropriate sentence, he urged.

He went on to say that while there was potential to do great harm through the defendant's offending, no person suffered actual harm and this was an important distinction.

Judge Johnson said any reputational damage done to An Garda Siochana was more than corrected by the thorough investigation but one could argue that culpability was still the same and that the defendant was lucky.

Mr Naidoo said he didn't disagree with the court on the issue of culpability and said the defendant had brought all of this on herself. To continue as a Garda was incompatible with these offences so there was this loss of reputation and consequences for her behaviour which would never leave her.

"Her future prospects cannot be great," he submitted.

He added that it was a case which naturally attracted a lot of media attention and "that's there forever."

"Put her name into a search engine and that's what comes up," he said, adding that her reputation in Sligo was in tatters.

Mr Naidoo said if the court decided on a custodial sentence it would be a Garda who was going to prison.

"It would be a much more dangerous place for her to be and she has come from a family of Gardaí," he submitted.

Henry had four meetings with her probation officer and she had expressed remorse and had shown insight into her behaviour.

Mr Naidoo said the defendant had a pre-existing drug problem and pre-existing relationships with those on the wrong side of the tracks and she found it difficult to talk about this.

"She's not coming into this without baggage. There were personal and drug issues in her life and she has had no treatment for her drug issue," he said, adding that she was adamant that she was now free drugs.

Testimonials were handed in on the defendant's behalf from two priests and two politicians.

Sligo Champion