SERIOUS shortcomings in the handling and storage in Garda stations of evidence, including drugs and cash seized as part of investigations, could have major implications for our criminal justice system.
Headed by former secretary general of the Department of Defence Michael Howard, the Garda Internal Audit Committee said “close attention” is needed to address a lack of safeguards in the handling of valuable and, often, vital evidence.
That’s putting it mildly. If a defence lawyer can show a systemic failure within An Garda Síochána in the handling of evidence, the chances are a judge will acquit an accused person even if the evidence in a particular case is overwhelming.
What is of equal concern is that, because of unfulfilled vacancies, the committee “can no longer staff two audit teams, as was the practice in previous years”.
Will we have to wait for known criminals to be acquitted before something is done to address this?
Jailing an innocent person is an injustice to that individual but letting the guilty go free is an injustice to us all.
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