5: A complaint of a criminal offence, resolved by criminal investigation
The complaint arose from attendance by gardaí at a house party, following a report of criminal damage. Gardaí attended and spoke to a young man who had been identified by those present as possibly being responsible for the damage. This man subsequently made a complaint to the Garda Ombudsman alleging that the garda who spoke to him was verbally abusive, assaulted him (specifically, punching him a number of times) and made threats against him.
The complaint was admitted and, as it contained an allegation of a criminal offence (assault), it was designated for investigation by a Garda Ombudsman investigator. A detailed statement was taken from the complainant and medical evidence was obtained. Witness enquiries were undertaken and a number of witnesses present at the house party were identified. Statements were taken from these witnesses. They outlined a version of events that differed from that put forward by the complainant.
The complainant was then re-interviewed after caution for a possible offence under s.110 of the Garda Síochána Act, 2005 (knowingly providing false or misleading information to the Garda Ombudsman).
The investigation established that there was considerable independent evidence that contradicted the allegations made by the complainant and to suggest that the gardaí who had attended the incident had acted appropriately. The evidence was assessed to ascertain whether a file should be sent to the DPP in relation to the section 110 offence. It was decided that the evidence was not sufficient to prove that the complainant had ‘knowingly’ provided false or misleading information. As such the investigation was concluded and the parties informed.
*This type of investigation is provided for by section 98 of the Garda Síochána Act, 2005, which confers on Garda Ombudsman investigators the legal powers required to conduct a criminal investigation.