Supreme Court overturns Garda’s dismissal following pub raid
Irish Times, 6th November 2013
Garda stated he had found seven people inside Monica’s pub in Drumshanbo at 3.30am
The three judge Supreme Court has granted a garda’s appeal against the High Court’s rejection of his challenge to his dismissal.
Drumshanbo in Co Leitrim may seem “a tidy, quiet and even sleepy place” but “certainly was not such” around 3.30am one September Sunday when a Garda claimed to find several people drinking in “Monica’s” pub, sparking off events ultimately leading to his dismissal, a Supreme Court judge remarked today when overturning that dismissal.
Monica McGourty, wife of Paddy McGourty, the proprietor of “Monica’s” pub, became so incensed after Garda John Kelly spoke to the couple she walked around the town and sat outside another bar apparently to make the point other pubs were still operating at that hour, Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell noted.
Garda Kelly, stationed at Drumshanbo, had served 27 years in the force before his dismissal on August 2011 arising from an inquiry into allegations of misconduct against him connected with the Monica’s incident.
Today, the three judge Supreme Court granted his appeal against the High Court’s rejection of his challenge to that dismissal.
The court ruled a Garda Board of Inquiry failed to give reasons for recommending his dismissal and directed the board must give him those reasons before his fresh appeal against the recommended dismissal, to be conducted in line with the court’s findings.
Neither the Board of Inquiry nor an Appeals Board had explained their respective decisions in favour of dismissal “in even the most rudimentary way”, Mr Justice O’Donnell said, in a judgment with which Chief Justice Susan Denham and Mr. Justice Frank Clarke agreed.
The “remarkable” fact was Garda Kelly was dismissed after the Appeals Board applied some unknown test to facts which remain unclear, the judge said.
Garda Kelly not only did not know what view the Board of Inquiry took of the facts, he did not know what the Appeal Board thought the inquiry had decided concerning the facts.
Garda Kelly also does not know why the Appeal Board concluded in March 2012 his appeal was so lacking in substance it could be dismissed without any hearing, the judge said.
It was “difficult to square” all of this with Garda regulations that went to great lengths to ensure a “manifestly fair” procedure.
The regulations required reasons must be given for any determination by a Board of Inquiry unless the issues were so self evident the mere fact of the decision disclosed the reason, he ruled. That was not the case here.
Earlier, setting out the background, the judge said a taxi was outside Monica’s about 3.30am on Sunday September 20th, 2009, waiting for customers inside, when Garda Kelly approached.
This was two weeks after Paddy McGourty was convicted, following a prosecution initiated by Garda Kelly, in the District Court of having people on the premises after licensing hours.
That same day, Garda Kelly entered details on the Garda PULSE system indicating he conducted an after hours inspection of Monica’s where he found Mr McGourty, his wife and several customers. He made a formal statement a week later, stating he found seven people inside and two others walked past him as he went in.
In November 2009, his statement was given to a local Sergeant, Sergeant Fahy, with a view to a further prosecution of Mr McGourty. Correspondence between the two men made clear their relationship was not good, the judge said.
In that correspondence, Garda Kelly queried why Sgt Fahy was seeking clarifications of matters, referred to the Sergeant’s “close scrutiny” of the previous prosecution of Mr McGourty and suggested Monica’s was a favoured local for some Gardaí.
Sgt Fahy wrote to a Garda Inspector complaining Garda Kelly had not answered certain questions and recommended no prosecution.
Garda Kelly made further statements, including one in February naming certain persons as being present in Monica’s. One man who denied being there alleged Garda Kelly had been harassing him to name customers who were there.
In April 2010, the Garda inspector informed the Chief Supt in Sligo he intended to prosecute Mr McGourty and recommended the events of September 20th 2009 be fully investigated.
During that investigation, some people who admitted being in Monica’s denied Garda Kelly entered the premises while a taxi driver said he had seen Garda Kelly enter the front door. An examination of Garda Kelly’s notebook showed information concerning that night was written in two different pens.
A board of inquiry later upheld six allegations of misconduct against Garda Kelly, including falsehood in statements provided by him.
Garda Kelly’s appeal against that decision was dismissed without a hearing after an Appeal Board described the grounds of appeal as “without substance”.