Defendant and Garda ‘had history’
CHARGES CONTESTED BY ACCUSED
RICHARD O’CARROLL (43) from 40 Giltspur Heights in Bray appeared in Bray District Court last week to contest an accusation of threatening and abusive behaviour as well as obstruction of a Garda in the course of his duty.
Garda John O’Reilly said that at 9.25 a.m. on January 15 he was on mobile patrol at Giltspur Heights. He saw a lone male with his hood pulled up over his head. He said the man was rooting in his right-hand pocket with both hands and he believed the man was in possession of a controlled drug.
‘As I drove close, he turned around and faced the patrol car. At that point I identified the man to be Richard O’Carroll,’ said Garda O’Reilly. ‘I alighted from the patrol car. He looked at me, I looked at him. I shouted ‘ Gardai’, and not to move, that I wanted to search him.’
Garda O’Reilly said that O’Carroll turned and began to climb a railing. ’He flung himself over in attempt to evade gardai and was sprinting down the grass embankment to the Southern Cross. He almost caused a collision with a truck. He ran straight out in front of traffic.’
Garda O’Reilly said that he lost sight of O’Carroll while he climbed the fence and when he saw him again he was moving at a more relaxed pace.
‘I shouted stop again and he shouted “f **k off O’Reilly, you f ***ing scumbag. You’ll never find It, you f ***ing scumbag,”’ said Garda O’Reilly, adding that there were members of the public present. At that point he arrested him.
In cross-examination, solicitor Brendan Maloney put it to the garda that O’Carroll had explained his activity after being charged with the words ‘ I had already crossed onto the side of the fence. I was proceeding to cross the road to get my child’s lunch. I kept going as I had trouble with him before. I didn’t do anything wrong. I wasn’t shouting abuse to anyone, in any way shape or form. I was on the way to get my child’s lunch at half nine in the morning. She has Downs Syndrome.’ Garda O’Reilly accepted that.
Mr. Maloney also put it to Garda O’Reilly that he has ‘ a long-standing personal battle with Mr. O’Carroll,’ citing numerous cases of arrests, searches and a charge of threat to kill which was reduced in the Circuit Court to threatening behaviour and for which O’Carroll received a suspended sentence the day before this incident.
Mr. Maloney held up an envelope which he said was a summons which was served to O’Carroll with a smiley face on it. ‘I can assure you Judge, that was not on the letter,’ said Garda O’Reilly.
A woman in the courtroom called out ‘excuse me, I seen it!’ Mr. Maloney also alleged that Garda O’Reilly had said ‘ the worst is yet to come,’ at the door to a Stephanie O’Carroll.
‘ You have a sorry history, with encounter after encounter. You have a problem with Mr. O’Carroll,’ Mr. Maloney said to the Garda.
‘ This is entirely incorrect,’ said Garda O’Reilly. ‘ I have no problem with Mr. O’Carroll. I treat him like any other member of the public.
‘ There are other people I deal with on a regular basis.’
Mr. Maloney said that while an application had been made for a warrant for O’Carroll on a previous occasion this had never actually been issued. He said his client would say that Garda O’Reilly shouted ‘warrant’ to which O’Carroll replied ‘ there is none,’ and went on his way.
Garda O’Reilly dismissed that. He also said that it wasn’t the only estate he went to that morning.
Mr. Maloney called Garda O’Reilly’s version of events ‘a fiction.’
‘You couldn’t possibly have lost sight of him. Your adrenaline was pumping. You were in hot pursuit in open terrain. Just because it’s in your notebook doesn’t make it true,’ he said.
Mr. Maloney said that the arrest was unlawful as Garda O’Reilly’s decision to invoke the misuse of drugs act power to search did not reach the required grounds.
He said that the power to search is an important power in a garda’s armoury and in terms of a citizen’s rights it must be done correctly. There must be reasonable suspicion, they must be informed that they will be searched and warned of the potential sanctions.
Inspector Tom Finnerty said that Garda O’Reilly had given evidence of reasonable suspicion, and that he had stated categorically that he wanted to search O’Carroll.
‘Mr. O’Carroll is not a man unaware of the circumstances of involvement with gardai. The man fled. The gardai would look foolish standing at Giltspur Heights shouting down to the man what the penalties are. There wasn’t time.’
‘I’m not giving a decision on this today,’ said Judge David Kennedy. ‘I need to do a bit of reading.’ He adjourned the case to April 24.