Garda couple sue the force over ‘bullying’ female officer
6th January 2022
A husband and wife, who are both gardaí, are suing An Garda Síochána and the State over alleged bullying and harassment by a female sergeant at a rural Garda station.
Mark and Martina Kelly have yet to have their case heard in full, but in a judgment published on Tuesday, they won a High Court order that they must be allowed to see relevant parts of an investigation file, which An Garda Síochána had claimed was privileged.
Giving the background to the case, Judge Anthony Barr noted that Mark Kelly and the unnamed sergeant, ‘Sergeant D’, had both been based at the same station. Both applied for the job of sergeant-in-charge in 2011.© Provided by Extra.ie A husband and wife (not pictured), who are both gardaí, are suing An Garda Síochána and the State over alleged bullying and harassment by a female sergeant at a rural Garda station. Pic: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images
It was given to the female sergeant. Mr Kelly claims that from that time, she ‘began a campaign of bullying and harassment against him’, the judge said. ‘The plaintiff alleges Sergeant D engaged in a systematic campaign to humiliate and belittle him within the station and in particular, in the eyes of his work colleagues,’ Judge Barr said.
Mr Kelly said she would not trust him with the keys to an office containing money and once accused him of being ‘a barefaced liar’. He alleged that her repeated actions caused him to become ill and to require care from his GP and a psychiatrist. He had to take medication to deal with his mental health issues, the court heard.
Mr Kelly also claimed that once he reported the alleged bullying and harassment to his superiors, the Garda authorities failed to investigate the matter adequately or at all.© Provided by Extra.ie Mark and Martina Kelly have yet to have their case heard in full, but in a judgment published on Tuesday, they won a High Court order that they must be allowed to see relevant parts of an investigation file, which An Garda Síochána had claimed was privileged. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Judge Barr said he had been informed that of ten allegations made by the plaintiff against Sergeant D, two were ultimately upheld and eight were rejected. Mr Kelly also claimed that in September 2013, he received an envelope at his home, which contained a 49-page document that appeared to have been written by Sergeant D. The court heard that in that document, Sergeant D alleged Mr Kelly was lazy and inefficient, and that he and others in the station had formed a ‘brat pack’ to make her life, as sergeant-in-charge, unpleasant and difficult.
She alleged that the plaintiff had engaged in bullying and harassment towards her by undermining her in several ways and by excluding her from social activities organised for members of the station party, the court heard. The statement also contained several allegations against Martina Kelly, who was based in another station, it was heard.
It was alleged she spent a lot of her time in her husband’s station, doing his work, the court heard. It was also alleged that Mr Kelly and his wife would frequently bring their children to the station for babysitting purposes, the court heard. Judge Barr said Mr Kelly and his wife were greatly upset by the allegations contained in the document and brought it to the Garda authorities.© Provided by Extra.ie Giving the background to the case, Judge Anthony Barr noted that Mark Kelly and the unnamed sergeant, ‘Sergeant D’, had both been based at the same station. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos
They also made a criminal complaint of harassment over having been sent the document. An investigation was carried out by An Garda Síochána, to try to determine who may have been responsible for creating the document and who sent it to the Kellys. It is the Garda file concerning the investigation of that criminal complaint that the Garda authorities claimed was privileged and could not be released.
Judge Barr ruled that the relevant sections of the file should be given to the Kellys, including statements by various gardaí and a memo of interview with Sergeant D.
However, the judge also said that an accompanying report submitted to the DPP should not be handed over, to ensure officers in charge of an investigation felt free to give their views in a full and forthright manner.