Inquiry into how Garda machine gun fell from car

GSOC were quick off the mark yesterday to launch an investigation into the incident which resulted in an official firearm being lost from a garda vehicle. In launching their investigation it appears from media reports that they have already made up their minds. This is nothing new to GSOC of course. We are all aware of the dreaded injustice they did on the late Sergeant Michael Galvin. I reproduce some of the reports below, where they were severely criticised in their handling of this matter. Of interest GSOC have not made any comment on these findings. No surprise there, after all they are the experts!!!!! Experts in getting it wrong I hear you say.

The Garda Ombudsman has launched a public interest investigation into how an armed Garda unit lost a submachine gun and its ammunition in traffic in Dublin. The Heckler & Koch MP7 submachine gun fell out of the boot of a Garda vehicle when it went over a speed bump on Tuesday.

It was handed into Store Street Garda station by a member of the public on Tuesday evening. It had not been fired and all its ammunition has been accounted for.

A spokeswoman for the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) said yesterday it had not been notified of the incident by the Garda and only learned about it through media reports.

“The commission is concerned about the reports in the media and the apparent lack of security that these reports suggest,” it said in a statement.

“The commission is of the view that an independent investigation is necessary to ensure public confidence in the civilian oversight of policing in a time of increased armed Gardaí in Dublin city in particular.”

It said no notification or referral has been received from the Garda and no complaint has been received from the public.

Secure lockers

Gsoc can investigate any matter if it appears a garda may have committed an offence or contravened regulations, even if no complaint is received. Investigators are appealing for any witnesses to contact them.

The investigation is expected to focus on whether the gun was securely stored in the vehicle. Under Garda regulations, such weapons must be kept in secure lockers in the boot of the vehicle when not in use.

Gsoc will also examine if the boot latch was faulty or unsecured at the time of the incident.

Senior Gardaí are also conducting an internal investigation into how the weapon was lost. And Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said the incident is gravely concerning.

The armed unit was on patrol in an Armed Response Unit SUV as part of a Garda operation against organised crime in the city centre.

Sources say the boot of the vehicle opened as the car went over a ramp in the city centre at about 5pm. The weapon, which was in a bag, fell out into traffic where it was picked up by a member of the public. The bag also contained ammunition.

The weapon and ammunition were handed into Store Street station within the hour.

The MP7 is issued to members of the Emergency Response Unit, the Special Detective Unit and the Regional Support Units.

The guns have been widely deployed on Dublin streets in recent years in response to the ongoing Hutch-Kinahan gangland feud.

The gun, which was loaded with a full magazine, is capable of firing nearly 1,000 rounds a minute.

The Garda Press Office said a senior Garda officer has been appointed to examine the circumstances relating to the incident.

Inquiry into suicide of Donegal sergeant who was investigated by Gsoc finds ‘mistakes were made’

The judge found an email notifying management of the criminal investigation into Sergeant Michael Galvin and two of his colleagues was inadvertently

A JUDICIAL INQUIRY into the circumstances surrounding the suicide of a sergeant at a Donegal garda station in 2015 has found mistakes were made and some policies in relation to Gsoc investigations are inadequate.

Sergeant Michael Galvin died by suicide in a room in Ballyshannon Garda Station in May 2015. He was one of three Gardaí who were being investigated by Gsoc because they had interacted with a woman called Sheena Stewart, who died on New Year’s Day 2015.

There had been reports that the woman was distressed and was lying on the road at the bus station in Ballyshannon.

Sergeant Galvin was on his way to a hit-and-run at the time with his colleague Garda John Clancy and they encountered the 33-year-old woman at the bus station en route.

In his statement on the incident he wrote that she was on the footpath when they pulled up – CCTV later showed she was on the road and this inconsistency was questioned by Gsoc officers in their investigation.

They stopped to speak with her and told her they were on their way to the road crash scene but would return to her. Sheena Stewart was back on the footpath when they left her.

The inquiry, carried out by Justice Frank Clarke, heard from Garda Clancy that Sergeant Galvin had intended to make arrangements, if necessary, for her to stay in a B&B in the town. The judge heard he “had often provided that type of assistance in the past”.

However in the time half hour that followed, the woman returned to the road and at one point lay down on it. She was struck and killed by a mini-bus at 1.50am.

Email deleted

In a meeting at Ballyshannon garda station that day, Gsoc officers met with Galvin, Clancy and a third garda who had earlier interaction with the deceased woman, Sergeant Stewart Doyle.

The Gardaí were told statements would be obtained for the purpose of justifying their actions, but the inquiry found it was not made clear to them that they were the subject of a criminal investigation.

A formal notification that the three men were subject of a criminal investigation was later that month sent by email from Gsoc to the garda divisional office in Letterkenny. This email was “inadvertently deleted”, something the judge said was “highly unfortunate”.

Neither Sergeant Galvin nor Garda Clancy knew they were the subject of a criminal investigation until they were contacted to present themselves for an interview three months after it started.

The inquiry notes the sergeant had a lengthy consultation with his solicitors on 14 May 2015 during which he appeared to be “extremely concerned”. He had at this stage been told by an investigating Gsoc officer that the offence under investigation was perverting the course of justice.

On 21 May, following an interview with Sergeant Galvin, the investigating officer submitted a report recommending no prosecution. Six days later, an official from Gsoc Legal Affairs replied to him agreeing with his recommendation but informing him the file should nonetheless be sent to the Director of Public Prosecution.

The next day, on 28 May, 2015, Sergeant Galvin’s body were found in a locked detective’s room.

‘Distressed’

The inquiry was critical of the release of information to the media about the fact that Sergeant Galvin had been cleared of wrongdoing before his family had been told of the outcome of the investigation.

The inquiry found it would have been “significantly preferable” if greater coordination had taken to ensure the media did not have this information before the Galvin family.

It also noted that Sergeant Steward Doyle, the third garda who was under investigation, was not aware he was being investigated until after the death of Sergeant Galvin. He found out he had been the subject of this criminal investigation when he was informed that no action was to be taken in respect of him.

“It was very clear from all of the evidence heard by the inquiry that both the family and friends of Sergeant Galvin and also his colleagues in An Garda Síochána were extremely upset and distressed by the way in which the matter was handled,” the judge said.

Justice Clarke said consideration should be given to changing the current practice whereby the existence of a Gsoc criminal investigation is notified by An Garda Síochána to the member concerned.

It is suggested that this notification should be conducted by Gsoc in conjunction, if that is considered appropriate, with an appropriate line manager within An Garda Síochána.

He also recommended much more detailed information be made available to members of An Garda Síochána in a clear form about how Gsoc investigations are carried out.

The inquiry has suggested that Gsoc might give consideration to whether it is appropriate policy to always refer a file to the DPP.

The inquiry feels that some consideration should be given to considering whether there may not be some cases where no or so little evidence or materials are turned up in the course of a GSOC investigation of that type that a referral of a file to the DPP might be considered neither necessary nor truly justified.

Although the judge said “some mistakes were made, some policies and practices have been shown to be inadequate”, he concluded that no Gsoc officers were guilty of gross error.

Reacting to the findings of the inquiry today, General Secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), John Jacob, said today that Sergeant Galvin was a person of “exceptional integrity, who was a consummate gentleman and an exemplary sergeant”.

He pointed out that Michael Galvin was “not involved in any wrong-doing” and that this must always be emphasised.

“In making this statement, we are acutely aware of the pain of the Galvin family. Michael’s death was a great loss his wife, children and wider family circle and they continue to grieve the loss of husband, father and son. Michael’s colleagues are also reminded of their great loss with the publication of this report,” he said.

The association called on Gsoc to conduct the business of its investigations in a “more open and transparent fashion in the future to reduce the anxiety and distress for members under investigation”.

2 Responses to Inquiry into how Garda machine gun fell from car

  1. timothy July 12, 2018 at 9:19 pm #

    It seems to me that GSOC are more interested in fault finding rather than fact finding. They seem to me to be a group who had no previous interaction with the public and don’t properly understand the confrontational nature of a Garda’s duties and the vindictiveness that may arise from it. What happened in Donegal was deplorable and it seems there was no investigation, other than an inquest, taken place around it. There must always be due process and transparency.

  2. John Brennan July 12, 2018 at 9:34 pm #

    Not so long ago there was a bit of a furore alleging that gsoc was under surveillance by certain elements
    Two of their staff even reported that they had seen someone in a white van watching the office.
    There crack investigators didn’t even do the basic job of getting the registered number.

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