Garda defends interview

THERE were no cloak and dagger methods used during interviews with a Donegal woman in relation to the death of cattle dealer Richie Barron, a garda claimed yesterday.

Sergeant Paul Heffernan, who was one of the officers involved in interviewing Katrina Brolly in Letterkenny Garda Station in December 1996, insisted before the Morris Tribunal that his questions were straightforward.

“We asked straightforward questions, there was no cloak and dagger stuff,” said Sgt Heffernan, who was one of a number of gardaí who questioned Ms Brolly.

The tribunal is hearing evidence over the detention of Ms Brolly and her sister Roisin McConnell on December 4, 1996 in relation to the death of Mr Barron.

Three officers - Detective Garda John Dooley, Det. Sgt John White and Garda Joan Gallagher - are accused of intimidating Ms McConnell and Ms Brolly while investigating the whereabouts of Ms McConnell’s husband Mark, who was wrongly accused of being involved in the death.

Det. Sgt White and Det. Garda Dooley have admitted at the tribunal the psychological torture meted out to the two women.

During his dealings with Ms Brolly, Sgt Heffernan said he did not recall her requesting a telephone call to check on her children.

Paul McDermott, counsel for the tribunal, queried whether Ms Brolly had made a complaint of abuse to the sergeant.

“My best memory of that is Mrs Brolly said to me ‘I didn’t come here to be abused’,” he said.

Sgt Heffernan said he did not associate it as an allegation that other officers had been abusing her.

He said he should have inquired further what she had meant by the remark. Ms Brolly previously told the tribunal she had informed Sgt Heffernan about her hair being pulled by another garda and that she had never been granted her requested telephone call.

Sgt Heffernan said: “Mrs Brolly did not specifically inform me her hair had been pulled or that she had been assaulted in that fashion.”

Under cross-examination by Mr McDermott, retired Det. Garda Sean Herraghty said he did not remember Ms Brolly mentioning the alleged hair pulling and denied threatening her by telling her she would serve seven years in prison.

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