Four serving gardaí and retired superintendent charged over ‘fixing’ of penalty points
May 14 2021 12:29 PM
FOUR serving gardaí and a retired superintendent appeared before Limerick District Court on charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice over fixed charge penalty points notices in respect of road traffic matters.
None of the five – including retired Superintendent Edmund ‘Eamon’ O’Neill and Garda Tom McGlinchey, a former Waterford football manager – were present having been excused from attendance after being initially charged at a Limerick Garda Station last month and released on station bail.
Those charged included retired Superintendent Edmund ‘Eamon’ O’Neill formerly of Roxboro Garda Station; Garda Tom McGlinchey of Murroe Garda Station, Sergeant Michelle Leahy of Roxboro Garda Station, Garda Colm Geary of Clare Garda Division and Sergeant Ann-Marie Hassett, formerly of Henry Street Garda Station and currently of Kerry Garda Division.
All five face charges in respect of attempting to pervert the course of justice, contrary to Common Law, in respect of the operation of fixed charge penalty point notices issued to various civilians.
The charges cover various dates from October 9, 2016 to September 6, 2019.
All relate to addresses in the mid west area.
A total of 42 charges are involved and involve road traffic issues including speeding, using a mobile phone while driving and failure to produce insurance details – all issued to civilian motorists as part of fixed charge penalty notices.
A number of those civilians named on the charges as having been at the centre of alleged Road Traffic Act issues are well-known GAA figures including both players and officials.
A number of media figures were also listed on the charges as having been involved in alleged Road Traffic Act detections
Dan O’Gorman, solicitor for Mr O’Neill, told the court that the charges would be “vigorously contested.”
Mr O’Neill faces the largest number of charges with 30. Mr Geary faces three charges, Mr McGlinchey faces four charges, Ms Hassett faces three charges and Ms Leahy faces two charges.
The other solicitors involved are Liz Hughes, Sarah Ryan and Dan Murphy.
One of the charges involves alleged advice offered to a civilian in terms of the operation of the penalty points system.
Another charge involves contact by one Garda to other Gardai intended to pervert the course of justice in respect of a speeding offence.
The four serving Gardai and the retired superintendent will now face trial by judge and jury before Limerick Circuit Criminal Court.
Detective Chief Superintendent Walter O’Sullivan gave evidence of arrest, caution and charge to the Judge Patricia Harney.
He said all five were arrested at Mayorstone Garda Station on April 29 for allegedly attempting to pervert the course of justice.
None of the five commented to arresting officers after formal caution, either replying “nothing to say” or making “no comment”.
All five were released on station bail.
Det Chief Supt O’Sullivan told the court that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had directed trial by indictment in relation to all the matters before the court.
He applied for an adjournment of four weeks to allow Gardai to prepare the book of evidence in relation to the matter.
Det Chief Supt O’Sullivan confirmed to Judge Harney that the book of evidence would be ready for service at that time.
“It is anticipated it will be ready by that date,” he said.
Judge Harney adjourned all the matters until the June 11 sitting of Limerick District Court and remanded all five on continuing bail.
The charges followed a two year investigation by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI).
All charges were levelled following submission of a detailed case file by the NBCI to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) last year.
The investigation included a major intelligence gathering operation and a series of co-ordinated searches across the midwest.
NBCI detectives suspected a number of fixed charge penalty point notices were not being proceeded with.