Judge Seán O Donnabháin said yesterday that having heard the uncontested facts at a circuit court sitting in Midleton, Co Cork, there were no grounds in law or in fact to hold Midleton-based Detective Inspector Brian Goulding in contempt.
Det Insp Goulding’s appeal arose out of circumstances that unfolded during a monthly sitting of the family court in Midleton in 2008, when he held the rank of inspector.
The garda told Judge O Donnabháin yesterday that he had been prosecuting cases on behalf of the state before Judge Michael Patwell on September 11, 2008 when a situation arose after the second case in which a juvenile received a two-month sentence.
Det Insp Goulding said he was one of just two gardaí in the court at the time and that he gave the other garda, who had been on night duty the night before, permission to leave the court after the case, on condition that a replacement garda was found.
He said the next case was called before the replacement garda arrived in the courtroom and that it was pointed out to him that the prisoner was still at the back of the courtroom.
Det Insp Goulding said he tried to find a room for the juvenile and his mother in one of the courthouse’s two consultation rooms, but they were full.
“I came back to the front of the court and asked the judge for a minute to sort the situation.
“I explained the circumstances and that I needed a minute to bring the prisoner to the Garda station next door,” he said.
But Det Insp Goulding said Judge Patwell said this was not his problem.
He told Judge O Donnabháin that Judge Patwell said he had enough to be doing and that the Garda authorities should look after their business.
Det Insp Goulding said when Judge Patwell saw the prisoner still at the back of the courtroom, he held him in contempt for not removing him.
The order prevented him from prosecuting any cases on behalf of the state. He has since been promoted to detective inspector.
State solicitor John Brosnan told the court yesterday that the legal definition of contempt is a calculated act to impede or interfere with the conduct of law.
He described what happened in court on September 11, 2008 as an omission and said Det Insp Goulding was doing his best in the discharge of his duties.
Judge O Donnabháin was told that Judge Patwell had been made aware that yesterday’s appeal was listed for hearing but he did not appear in court.
Det Insp Goulding is an experienced and highly respected garda. As inspector, he was a leading member of the investigation teams in several high profile cases in recent years.
He was the officer who arrested Wayne O’Donoghue for the manslaughter of his young neighbour Robert Holohan. He also arrested Thomas Kennedy for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Sheola Keaney.