A woman who claimed that a small dog belonging to a member of An Garda Síochána defecated on her lawn and that the owner would not pick up the faeces made complaints to two garda stations and to the Garda Ombudsman.
Garda Brian Barrett was prosecuted at Cork District Court on counts of failing to control the dog and under the Litter Act in relation to the faeces. He pleaded not guilty to both counts and denied that his dog went into the garden at any stage.
Judge Joanne Carroll said: “It is important to note the law applies to members of An Garda Síochána the same way it applies to everyone else.”
The judge said in light of evidence that the dog was responsive to a whistle from the owner the charge of failing to keep the dog under control was dismissed.
Judge Carroll was going to convict on the littering offence but said that if the defendant made a charitable contribution of €450 the case would be struck out instead of a €500 fine being imposed.
The judge described it as a relatively minor offence but said Garda Barrett should have handled the matter “entirely differently.” Defence barrister Paula McCarthy said the defendant was a garda for 27 years and was without a disciplinary record.
Witness Eileen Collins was with her husband minding their grandchild at Woodlawn, South Douglas Road, shortly before 1pm on March 23, 2021.
“We saw a dog defecating on the lawn. I got annoyed and went out. I could see he was scratching up the grass where he had just pooed.
“A man got out of his car and whistled. The dog shot off and hopped into the car. I said to the man, ‘Are you aware your dog has just done this — your dog has just crapped on the lawn here’. He said: ‘No, no, I was watching him the whole time,’” the witness told state solicitor Frank Nyhan.
Her daughter-in-law, Miriam Collins, said: “I went over. I was pretty angry. I banged on the passenger door and said, ‘Pick up your dog crap’. I did try to open the back passenger door and it opened.”
Miriam Collins said the man said to her: “Now love, for your sins, back off, I am a guard.”
She said she did back off but said 'show me your badge again.”
Miriam Collins rang Anglesea Street garda station and was told that she would have to come in to make a statement. She said they would not come out to her and she said she could not go in as she has two young children.
She said that when she complained to Togher garda station on April 16 “they had a very different response to Anglesea Street. They came out."
Ms McCarthy BL said there were three conflicting versions of events given by Miriam Collins, between her direct evidence, her complaint to gardaí, and her complaint to the Garda Ombudsman. Questioned about this, she said: “I am giving my understanding of what happened.”
Garda Barrett said he was in the area to collect a child from school. He said it was a nice day and he got out of his car with his dog who was beside him on the footpath, never out of his sight, and he said the dog did not go into the garden.
“100 per cent that did not happen. The dog was under my control at all times,” he said.
He said Miriam Collins twice got into his car during the disputed incident. The witness denied ever getting into the car.