Garda management handled alleged theft investigation in "sinister" manner, whistleblower tells tribunal

Garda management handled alleged theft investigation in 'sinister' manner, whistleblower tells tribunal
Garda Nicholas Keogh (left) and Garda whistleblower John Wilson arriving at the Disclosures Tribunal at Dublin Castle today. Picture: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

A Garda whistleblower accused of alleging a theft of cash by three gardaí has said he never did so and that Garda management handled the investigation in a "sinister" manner.

Gda Nicholas Keogh is giving evidence at the Disclosures Tribunal, where counsel for An Garda Síochána are cross-examining him.

The tribunal is in its second week hearing from Gda Keogh who alleges that a senior member of the Athlone drugs unit, identified to the tribunal as Garda A, was in an improper relationship with a heroin dealer, identified as Ms B, who had a then-estimated €2,500 a week income.

The tribunal, chaired by Judge Sean Ryan, is investigating if Gda Keogh was targeted, harassed or bullied after he made his protected disclosure on May 8, 2014.

On 2 June, 2014, Athlone Garda Aidan Lyons wrote a report of meeting a local man, Liam McHugh, in the town.

Gda Lyons wrote that "Mr McHugh brought up the general topic of 'whistleblowers' and we had a general conversation for a few minutes during which he [Mr McHugh] informed me as follows:

'The bald guard [Gda Keogh] came over to me the other day and asked if I could remember the time I was searched by the three guards and €800 was stolen from me and spent drinking in the Castle [pub], the bookies and the casino.

'He [Gda Keogh] said if I wanted to make a complaint about it then he would back me up.'"

Gda Lyons reported that he asked Mr McHugh "if the theft actually happened and his answer was 'no, not at all, I'm not going bringing trouble on myself'".

Mr McHugh went on to tell Gda Lyons that Gda Keogh said he "was there himself when it happened and he would back me up if I wanted to make a complaint".

On 9 June, 2014, Gda Keogh, in his statement, says that he was called into Supt Noreen McBrien's office and informed that she was "investigating another complaint" against him.

Gda Keogh said he had "no idea" what the complaint was and while he was shown the report, he was not shown who wrote it.

On 23 July, 2014, Supt Noreen McBrien wrote to Gda Keogh, asking him to report on his contacts with Mr McHugh and was told that he met Mr McHugh on 19 July, 2014, but not for three months before that.

Supt McBrien then updated Chief Superintendent Mark Curran on the matter, describing Gda Keogh as "consistent" in his accounts.

Shane Murphy SC, counsel for An Garda Síochána, described the actions of senior gardaí as "reasonable" and that it did not amount to targeting Gda Keogh.

"It was reasonable to check it out, yes," said Gda Keogh.

"You read into it things that aren't there at all," said Mr Murphy.

"Gda Lyons is Garda A's partner," said Gda Keogh.

File photo
File photo

"The issue [for Garda management] is not, apparently, me and the three guards [being at the scene of an alleged theft], it's that I told Liam McHugh to report a crime. Garda management dealt with it in a very unusual manner."

Mr Murphy responded: "I suggest you're wrong, that this is your subjective conclusion. It's not the reality, it's just your perception."

Chief Supt Curran, in his statement, wrote that the matter ended when there was no further information to substantiate the report, as Mr McHugh did not give a statement.

Gda Keogh told Judge Ryan the matter was "sinister", adding that gardaí went back a second time to Mr McHugh.

In his statement, Gda Keogh said "there was no rigorous follow-up or conclusion to this charge. It appeared to be just another false allegation left in the ether and used to blacken and cause apprehension in me.

"It was inscrutable, was dropped out of nowhere and went nowhere."

Gda Keogh told the judge: "There were three guards, and Garda management don't take the statements?"

Mr Murphy suggested that Gda Keogh was "inflating something to a level it isn't".

"The whole way it was dealt with is not normal Garda policy and I stand my ground fully," said Gda Keogh.

"There was no investigation into this alleged theft."

"There was no evidence," said Mr Murphy.

"There was no evidence because it never happened!" said Gda Keogh.

"Three guards are supposed to be involved in a theft and it's not reported until two days later?"

Mr Murphy said that Gda Keogh was "converting the matter into something more serious".

Previously, Gda Keogh told the tribunal that Gda Lyons had been put up to writing the report by Garda A, who is at the centre of the protected disclosure complaint, because Gda Lyons was a "clean pair of hands".

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