Morris garda was ‘shocked’ when arrested

SUSPENDED Detective Sergeant John White was shocked and afraid when he was arrested and brought in for questioning at his own garda station, the Morris Tribunal into garda corruption in Donegal heard yesterday.

Sgt White said he knew his career was ruined when he was stopped as he got out of his car at Letterkenny Garda Station in March 2000.

“By the look on (Inspector Tadgh) Foley’s face, I knew I was in serious bother. The arrest was over within five seconds of me getting out of the car,” he said.

“It was abrupt and rough. There was aggression in his voice and there were four or five more walking around. I was so shocked I couldn’t think.”

Sgt White said he appealed to Inspector Foley, who was a member of the Carty team investigating garda corruption in the Donegal division, not to take him into his own garda station.

“He said ‘No, get up those steps and into the station’. I couldn’t believe what was happening.”

The arrest of Sgt White was carried out after the false statements of a Sligo man, Bernard Conlon, came to light. He had falsely claimed that two members of the extended McBrearty family, Mark McConnell and Michael Peoples, threatened him with a silver bullet. He later blamed Sgt White for putting him up to it.

The tribunal heard that Sgt White vigorously denied this in garda interviews with the Carty team but otherwise said virtually nothing.

“I was upset and it’s a very difficult position to be in, particularly if you’re a policeman,” said Sgt White.

“I was torn between two emotions. At the back of my mind I wanted to do it (answer questions), but my legal advice said don’t do it.

“Obviously they (the Carty team) believed I had set up Mr Conlon to do all these bad things, these malicious reports.”

Sgt White was giving evidence at the tribunal’s Silver Bullet module.

The 50-year-old native of Bansha, Co Tipperary, was suspended in 2001 after the allegations came to light.

He was acquitted in Letterkenny Circuit Court earlier this year on charges of perverting the course of justice and making false statements.

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