Gardaí disciplined after driving past heart attack victim

Two gardaí have been found to be in breach of discipline after they drove past a man after he collapsed suffering from a heart attack.

Seamus Duffy collapsed complaining of chest pains after being stopped by gardaí in Ballybofey, Co Donegal, on April 7 last.

Mr Duffy was stopped by gardaí at a traffic checkpoint where it was found his car tax was out of date by two months. After pleading for a chance, he refused to get out of the car.

The car, with Mr Duffy’s medication inside, was seized by gardaí.

A few minutes later, Mr Duffy collapsed to the ground, clutching his chest.

Passers-by called an ambulance and Mr Duffy, who has a heart condition, was taken to hospital.

Gardaí later delivered Mr Duffy’s medication to his home.

Mr Duffy, aged 50, from Railway Rd, Killygordon, complained to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission about the incident. In his letter to GSOC, Mr Duffy claimed that one of the gardaí even threatened to pepper-spray him.

“I got out of the car and I informed them that I was still feeling unwell, but [one of the gardaí] replied, “so what?”. I told them I was unable to walk due to feeling unwell, then I was told to get a taxi. They took possession of my car. I collapsed onto the grass as I was not well and as I was lying on the grass they drove past me. They didn’t care if I died. If it was not for the witnesses there I would not have got help,” Mr Duffy writes in his letter to GSOC.

On May 24, the ombudsman decided that two aspects of Mr Duffy’s complaint were to be investigated. They included that he had been verbally abused by one of the gardaí.

It also ordered that an investigation be carried out into his claim that gardaí drove past him after he had collapsed and did not seek any assistance for him.

On June 19, the ombudsman ordered the then Buncrana-based Garda Superintendent, Andrew Archbold, to investigate the complaint.

On November 18, Donegal’s Garda Chief Superintendent, Terry McGinn, wrote to Mr Duffy, informing him that both gardaí had been found to be in breach of discipline.

The investigation file was then referred back to the Garda Ombudsman.

The ombudsman wrote to Mr Duffy again on November 28, informing him that both gardaí had been found in breach of discipline.

The case officer, Helen McCann, said the investigation had concluded that both “were found to be in breach of the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations 2007 in relation to neglect of duty and were dealt with by way of advice”.

Mr Duffy was told that if he was not satisfied that he may request GSOC to review the matter.

“The review will focus on the manner in which your complaint was investigated by the GSIO rather than a second or further investigation of your complaint.”

He was then informed he had until December 12 to request a review.

Donegal County Councillor Frank McBrearty, who acted on behalf of Mr Duffy during correspondence with GSOC and interviews with investigating officer Supt Archbold, said they will be seeking a review.

Mr McBrearty said: “Seamus Duffy admits that his car tax was out by two months. However the manner in which he was treated by these gardaí was completely unsatisfactory.”

“This man suffers from a heart condition and for gardaí to refuse him his medication and then to drive away from him is a clear dereliction of their duty.”

It has now come to light that Mr Duffy has been charged with not having tax for his vehicle but also obstructing gardaí on the date he was stopped and suffered a heart attack.

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