On April 12 2004 MALE A was arrested on Séan O’Casey Avenue. On September 2 of the same year he made a statement to the now defunct Garda Siochana Complaints Board about his arrest. In his complaint he made a number of very significant allegations against several gardaí.
Most notably the details MALE A provided in his statement allege he was assaulted in a manner very similar to the alleged assault against Terence Wheelock.
The similarities in the two allegations are significant. Both MALE A and Mr Wheelock were arrested on Séan O’Casey Avenue within twelve months of each other. Both are of similar age. In both cases claims are made that the subject of the arrest was ‘roughed-up’ at the scene. In both cases the nature of the alleged attacks by the members of An Garda intensified once the subject had been brought to station. The Gardaí in both cases are alleged to have targeted the anal and lower back areas of the subject’s body, as well as other areas. Both cases include allegations that gardaí seriously assualted the subject in the station cells. Furthermore, one particular garda was involved in both incidents. All in all, the two incidents, as described by the complainants, are almost carbon copies.
The 2007 inquest, held in camera, into the death of Mr Wheelock and the recently published report by the Garda Ombudsman (proceedings also in camera) both vindicated the Gardaí. However, importantly, the complaint by MALE A resulted in several officers being found in breach of discipline. Some of these Gardaí, it was then decided, had breached discipline in a manner serious enough to warrant an appearance before a disciplinary tribunal.
All the information above is detailed in the version of the Ombudsman’s report supplied to the Wheelock family. This version differs in several areas to the one made available to the public earlier this months. I obtained the document via Ken Foxe and have photographed and OCRd the significant pages which have not been made public before today. There are other differences between the family and public versions but these are not noticeable on first glance. In coming weeks I’ll photograph every page and, with Gav’s help, stitch the images together to form a full electronic version of the family’s copy. I’ll then post it here for people to comb through. Unfortunately, this copy will likely also have to contain considerable redactions.
While the names of the complainant and the Garda are included in the original document I have decided to redact both. In the first instance for reasons of personal privacy, in the second for legal reasons.
In his complaint MALE A claimed that during his arrest he was assaulted by Gardaí. “As a result of the assault”, MALE A says, “he lost consciousness and woke up on the floor of the public office of Fitzgibbon Street Garda where he was being kicked by Gardai”. To the Complaints Board…
… He alleged that the Gardai who were assaulting him tried to open his arms to enable them to re-open a stab wound that he had suffered some weeks previously. He stated that when they failed to do this the Gardai turned him over and pulled down his trousers, that he kept his legs crossed and that he was struck between 10 and 15 times on the tailbone. He stated that the bottom of his back, his arms and his eyes were covered in bruises.
He states he was then put into a holding cell where he states he was further assaulted by a Garda member who punched him in the face.
He stated that he was refused access to a Doctor and a solicitor.
In his statement MALE A also made an allegation against a named Garda member. This member, he said, “pulled his trousers down and struck him around the anus with a baton”.
One of the gardaí involved in the incident was also present 12 months later during the jailing of Terence Wheelock. MALE A made no direct allegations against this officer. However, this garda was found in breach of discipline following the inquiry by members of Complaints Board team. This Garda, along with a number of others involved, was dealt with “informally” by the Garda Commissioner, by way of “advice, admonition or warning” according to the family’s version of the report. Other members were sent before a tribunal, the findings and proceedings of which always remain private.
A file relating to the incident was later forwarded to the DPP who directed that no prosecution be sought, according to details in the document.
Similar assaults were alleged in the Terence Wheelock case. The Gardaí involved deny they assaulted Mr Wheelock in any way. They claim Mr Wheelock left the Garda station without any injuries except bruising to his left arm, which evidence showed he had received a number of week prior. However, in recent weeks the Wheelock family has released photos of Terence Wheelock’s body taken by a forensic photographer on Mr Wheelock’s arrival at the hospital, having traveled from the garda station. These images can be viewed on Ken Foxe’s blog, they show bruising and broken skin, including injuries to Mr Wheelock’s lower back, which pathologists have struggled to explain.
I sought details relating to the incident involving MALE A from An Garda Siochana last week. In an email to the Garda Press Office I wrote;
I have become aware of a complaint which was made by a member of the public against a number of gardai. This complaint resulted in the Garda Siochana Complaints Board finding that certain members were in breach of discipline. The complaint was made by Mr [NAME SUPPLIED] and came before the board in October 2005. It related to an incident which took place in Fitzgibbon St station where he claimed he was hit in several areas of his body by numerous Gardaí after being arrested on Sean O’Casey Avenue, Dublin.
One of the members involved was [NAME SUPPLIED] (then of the rank of Garda and stationed in Fitzgibbon Street).
The complaint resulted in a file being prepared for the DPP after an investigation was carried out. The DPP directed that no prosecution be sought. The GSCB found that there had been a breach of discipline. This breach was handled informally by the Garda Commissioner who issued advice, admonition or a warning, as per my knowledge, in relation to [GARDA, NAME SUPPLIED] and other members. In relation to more members the matter was referred to the Garda Commissioner to be dealt with at a tribunal.
When did this come before tribunal? Or when it is expected to come before a tribunal? What was the findings of the tribunal? If the tribunal found the members were in further breach of discipline what punishment was directed? How many members came before, or are expected to become before, the tribunal?
Will the force supply details of the admonition, warning or advice issued to [NAME SUPPLIED] (et al)?
Will the findings of the tribunal be made public?
Will the Garda Commissioner make a statement on this matter?
The following day I received an acknowledgement, thanking me for my enquiry and telling me they’d get back to me.
Two days later I received this reply;
Good Morning Mark.
It is not the policy of An Garda Síochána to comment on internal discipline enquiries.
Garda Press Office
I then contacted the Garda Ombudsman Commission, which has subsequently taken responsibility for the duties of the Complaints Board. I was referred to a staff member there who had worked on the Complaints Board.
In a phone conversation she told she was prohibited from commenting in any way about complaints. She would not even confirm to me basic details about the Complaints Board. Questions like “the investigating team for the board seem to use titles like ‘detective sergeant’, are investigating team members also members of An Garda?” were met with vague answers (for which she apologised, saying she was, in essence, legally obliged to tell me nothing). I had to ask such simple questions because the Complaints Board website has been taken offline so there is very little official information available online about them.
The Complaints Board say they’re unable to comment for legal reasons. The Garda Siochana refuses to comment. No details about internal disciplinary cases are made public in the vast majoirty cases. The details that are made available in certain cases are minimal. In this particular case, nothing was released. We therefore know nothing about the “advice, warning or admonition” issued to the Garda involved in both cases. Nor do we know anything about the actions which resulted in gardaí being found in breach of discipline and referred to tribunal, or the decision of the tribunal. Nor can I tell you if the allegations made by the complainant were dismissed by the tribunal or proved accurate. Hence, despite the now confirmed “breach of discipline” the complaint remains an ‘allegation’.
To the detriment of the public interest the Garda Siochana remains a closed, secretive, impenetrable organisation whose members are largely unaccountable to the public which they serve. Ashamedly our police force is the only one in western Europe which falls outside the Freedom of Information process. Again I quote Gavin’s prior post on this matter.
All that is needed for An Garda Síochána to come under FOI is the signature of Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, and some regulations to be implemented. Then we can take our place among such nations as Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan as a country that allows citizens to request information from their police force. The Gardai must be brought under FOI as a matter of urgency.
The Wheelock family continues to campaign for a full public inquiry into Terence Wheelock’s death.
*The last line is of page 159 is cut-off, it reads “…repeated the allegations. He provided the following detail of the alleged assault at”.
The full document is circa 200 pages in length, as you can imagine it will take some time for us to stitch all the images together satisfactorily. Even the rag-tag visuals of the above pdf took some time to put together and OCR.