Ex garda facing jail vows to appear at tribunal

A former garda promised to give evidence to the Morris Tribunal after he was threatened with possible legal action over his failure to appear, it emerged tonight.

A former garda promised to give evidence to the Morris Tribunal after he was threatened with possible legal action over his failure to appear, it emerged tonight.

The tribunal heard that the former Gda Philip Collins, who faced the possibility of two-years in prison over his failure to appear at this morning’s sitting, had contacted officials to confirm he would attend on Thursday.

Judge Frederick Morris, the chair of the tribunal, said he would withhold sending a file to the Director of Public Prosecution to consider Gda Collins’s reasons for not showing up at the tribunal sittings.

“I have asked the registrar to withhold the making of the order, or the dispatching of the order for the time being,” Judge Morris said.

“Gda Collins says he will be here on Thursday and hopefully he will be.”

Gda Collins, who was stationed in Raphoe and involved in taking a key statement from a witness surrounding the death of cattle dealer Richie Barron in October 1996, had been served a summons on two separate occasions to attend sittings of the tribunal.

Under the Tribunal Act, Gda Collins, who has resigned from the force, could face a sentence of up to two years and/or a fine of up to €10,000 if he was convicted by a jury of obstructing the tribunal’s inquiry.

Earlier, Judge Morris said: “His refusal to attend here has constituted an obstruction to me in carrying out my work.”

Summons server, Tony McDonald, said he had served papers on Gda Philip Collins of Convoy, Co Donegal, on January 26 to appear to give evidence at the tribunal today.

“I told him I was Tony McDonald from the Morris Tribunal, and that it was a witness summons. As soon as he heard it was from the Morris Tribunal he dropped it and he closed his door,” he said.

The Judge said: “I clearly am of the view that Gda Collins’s evidence is necessary to me in the course of my work I am required to have a variety of explanations given to me.”

Meanwhile, Supt James Gallagher, who took the witness stand today, said his officer’s journal concerning the investigation into the death of Mr Barron had only been furnished to the tribunal years late as it had been misplaced.

Supt Gallagher, who was stationed at Letterkenny and called out as district officer at the time of Mr Barron’s death, said that after he was transferred there to replace former Supt Kevin Lennon he had brought his papers home.

“My journal appears to have gotten put into my daughter’s put away books after doing her Leaving Certificate, sometime in November I was asked to get a revision book,” he said.

“The diary had been mislaid, there was nothing in the diary that I wanted to hide or not make available to the tribunal.”

The superintendent said that close to the time of Mr Barron’s death officers were of the opinion that he had been killed through a hit-and-run.

He told the tribunal that his view of the post mortem report was that the pathologist felt Mr Barron’s injuries were consistent with being struck by a blunt instrument such as a car bumper.

“Certainly homicide or assault didn’t enter into the occasion,” Supt Gallagher said.

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