Disclosures Tribunal hears how Garda whistleblower went 'AWOL' during four-day drinking binge

A garda whistleblower has admitted to going 'AWOL' from duty during a four-day drinking binge for which he was disciplined, a tribunal has heard.

Disclosures Tribunal hears how Garda whistleblower went 'AWOL' during four-day drinking binge

A garda whistleblower has admitted to going 'AWOL' from duty during a four-day drinking binge for which he was disciplined, a tribunal has heard.

The Disclosures Tribunal is hearing from Garda Nicholas Keogh who alleges that a senior member of the Athlone drugs unit, identified to the tribunal as Garda A, was in an improper relationship with a heroin dealer, identified as Ms B.

Judge Sean Ryan heard that Gda Keogh was absent without leave from July 11 to 14, 2015. Gda Keogh reported sick and unfit for duty on July 9.

In a statement to the tribunal, Gda Keogh said that "this medically certified absence was irrationally turned by Superintendent Pat Murray into a charge of being absent without leave".

He phoned the station to say he was going off sick leave on July 10 but did not report for duty on the following four days.

It was reported to Superintendent Patrick Murray and Gda Keogh provided a retrospective sick certificate on July 16 to cover the days.

Gda Keogh said that this was a "mix-up".

"I apparently had rung 'off sick'. I was, on the contrary, sick. it was at most a mistake," he said in a statement.

Gda Keogh's diary was shown to the tribunal, which showed entries of "awol drink" for July 11 and July 12.

Supt Murray, in his statement, said that Gda Keogh "acknowledged his absence without leave and said he had reported fit for duty on July 10 while drunk, had forgotten he had done so and had been continuously drinking over the next few days and didn't report for duty."

Supt Murray told Gda Keogh that the absence may be a breach of discipline and sought an explanation. He later recommended to the chief superintendent in Westmeath that "the matter be dealt with as a less serious breach of discipline".

The tribunal was shown a report from Supt Murray that read:

"[Gda Keogh] admitted being AWOL. Said [he] reported on sick on 10 July, 2015, in a fit of drink after drinking for a few days and said he forgot he reported off sick so didn't go to work. Admitted to a drink problem and has stopped going to AA."

Gda Keogh was fined €300 by Superintendent Alan Murray for neglect of duty and was found not to be in breach of a discreditable conduct charge, which Gda Keogh denied.

In mitigation, Supt Alan Murray had regard to Gda Keogh stating that he was suffering from work-related stress and was drinking heavily.

Gda Keogh told Judge Ryan he was taking issue with a date of a phone-call made by Supt Patrick Murray to him on the matter, claiming that it was made on July 15 and not the day before, of not receiving documents regarding his disciplinary investigation and that he did not knowingly avoid contact with his sergeants.

Gda Keogh, while 'absent', sent a Facebook message to one of his sergeants, Cormac Moylan, apologising for his absence and saying that he had no credit in his phone.

He appealed the fine, which was upheld by Chief Superintendent Lorraine Wheatley.

Earlier, the tribunal had heard how Gda Keogh had received a 'Regulation 10' notice for not having the correct car tax on his private vehicle and of how some travel subsistence payments had been withheld from him until he rectified his tax.

At the previous day's hearing, he felt that being issued the notice for not correctly taxing his Landrover Freelander was treating him differently to other gardaí with "the same tax and were also driving commercial vehicles in the same way as me".

However, Gda Keogh told Judge Ryan this morning that he had to re-submit some travel forms that "went missing" and had to label them "re-submissions" because he was concerned with being accused of fraud.

Garda Nicholas Keogh. Pic: Collins

Garda Nicholas Keogh. Pic: Collins

Gda Keogh said that his missing travel forms were a "smokescreen" to get to the car tax issue.

"They knew there was a problem with the car tax, I didn't," he told Judge Ryan.

Gda Keogh said the issue was a "minute thing" as his car was taxed in a different bracket - commercial, not private - not untaxed.

On the day he was to be disciplined, Gda Keogh told the tribunal of text messages between Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan, his own superintendent and a chief superintendent.

Gda Keogh said that he knew of the message from billing documents he viewed but the nature of the messages could not be accessed.

He said: "They could have been talking about the weather but there is no other pattern of text messaging between them" except for the date he was due to be disciplined, April 3, 2015.

Gda Keogh will continue giving evidence for some days.

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