1: Referral following a collision by a garda car with a civilian car


Background:

An incident was referred to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) by a Garda Superintendent*. We were informed that a garda vehicle had collided with a civilian vehicle. The Superintendent informed GSOC that it was suspected that there were a number of serious injuries as a result of the collision.

GSOC subsequently conducted an investigation in accordance with section 98 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (a criminal investigation).

Action taken:

During the investigation, the injured party, the garda member concerned, several garda and civilian witnesses and the gardaí who attended the scene were interviewed and their statements were obtained. The scene was examined by a forensic collision investigator and photographed by a scene of crime examiner. High quality CCTV was obtained from business premises near the collision scene. An examination was also carried out on the vehicles involved in this collision.

When interviewed under caution, the driver of the Garda vehicle provided GSOC with a prepared statement and accepted responsibility for the collision. On completion of the investigation, there was sufficient prima facia evidence that an offence had been committed by the garda member concerned. The offences considered were careless driving, contrary to section 52 of the Road Traffic Act, 1961 (as amended) and dangerous driving, contrary to section 53 of the Road Traffic Act, 1961 (as amended).

A file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions recommending that consideration be given to the prosecution of the garda member concerned. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions directed that there should be a prosecution for dangerous driving under section 53 of the Road Traffic Act, 1961 (as amended), for summary disposal.

Around 18 months after the incident, the matter was heard before the District Court for the district in which it occurred.

Outcome:

After hearing a set of agreed facts and viewing the CCTV, the District Court Judge convicted the Garda member concerned of careless driving. The sentence was a substantial fine and a number of penalty points on the member’s driving licence.

*S.102 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 provides for referral to GSOC of incidents where death or serious harm may have occurred and may have been as a result of garda conduct.