Thursday 27 June 2019

Detective Sergeant O'Brien retires from the Gardai

Fergus O’Brien with his family – Justin, Margaret and Jonathan O’Brien and Lauren Creedon
Fergus O’Brien with his family – Justin, Margaret and Jonathan O’Brien and Lauren Creedon

Detective Garda Fergus O'Brien was treated to a farewell party in the Parkview Hotel as he retires after 39 years of service.

He was accompanied by his wife Margaret and his sons Jonathan and Justin.

Also in attendance were his sister Della from Australia, his brother Jarlath from London and his other brother John, who is also a former Garda.

Fergus joined the Gardai in 1980 and was first based at Pearse Street. He also served in Terenure and at the Garda Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) Headquarters in Harcourt Square.

He came to Bray in 1990 and was promoted in 1994 and relocated to Rathdrum. He was made a Detective Sergeant in 1995.

'I enjoyed my time in Wicklow and it was an absolute honour to serve the people of Wicklow,' said Fergus.

During his time as a Detective Sergeant he was involved in some of the most high-profile murder cases to take place in the county.

Tom Nevin was killed in March of 1996 and his wife Catherine Nevin was charged with murder by Fergus in 1997 in a case which gripped all the national headlines.

'I was a young Detective Sergeant at the time so I had a lot of responsibility. There was a huge amount of spotlight on that case and it was highly stressful. Catherine Nevin was convicted in 2000 but there were a number of appeals which went on for quite some time. I was the 'keeper' of the case. Someone had to be the minder,' he said.

He also led the case against Martha Herda, who was found guilty of killing Csaba Orsos, who was a passenger in her car when she drove through crash barriers at South Quay in Arklow six years ago. During the trial, Ms Herda attempted to blacken her victim's name.

'We redeemed his good name for his family's memory and proved all the allegations she made against him were not true,' said Fergus.

He was also the leading investigator into the murder of Anne Shortall at The Murrough, Wicklow town in 2015. In 2017 Roy Webster was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of the mother-of-three.

Another distressing case Fergus was involved with was the investigation into the disappearance of Stephen O'Meara of Wicklow town who went missing in August of 2009. His body was eventually located on Christmas Eve.

'We found the body on Christmas Eve and dug it up on Christmas morning, which was very tough on his family. He had been buried alive. We successfully charged one person with his murder and another person with his unlawful killing,' recalled Fergus.

His considerable skills as a Detective Sergeant also led to the arrest and conviction of Anthony Farrell over the murder of 44-year-old John Deasy after the shopkeeper was stabbed in the chest during a robbery in November of 2009.

As for the future, Fergus first intends to take it easy and relax away for the day-to-day stress of life as a Detective.

'I just plan to unwind for the time being. It's only when you retire that you properly realise just how stressful the job can be.

'You can never switch off. You are always conscious that there is no room for error and you must have every 'i' dotted and every 't' crossed. You have to use your instincts, professionalism and skills at all times,' said the retired detective.

Wicklow People