11: A complaint of Assault, resolved by Criminal Investigation

9 Jan 2017


The complaint arose from attendance by gardaí at a physical altercation between a woman and her boyfriend on the street.  The woman made a complaint to the Garda Ombudsman alleging that she was pepper sprayed without justification and was refused water and medical attention in a garda station following her arrest.

Action Taken

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, where she indicated that there were no witnesses to her complaint, as she alleged she was pepper sprayed while in the Garda car. CCTV enquiries were undertaken and footage was obtained of the altercation between the man and woman. A witness was identified, who had spent the evening in the company of the complainant, but the person failed to co-operate with the investigation.  Garda documentary evidence was obtained; it did not support the complainant’s account of the events.


There was no independent evidence to support the complainant’s allegations.  Available evidence suggested that she was intoxicated and aggressive on the night of her arrest and the garda concerned provided a rationale for his decision to deploy the pepper spray. The documentary evidence in this case indicated that the complainant was provided with water at the garda station and there was no evidence that medical attention was requested.

It was determined that it was neither reasonable nor practicable to carry out any further investigative steps into the complaint, so it was discontinued in accordance with S.93(1)(c) of the Act and closed, and the parties were notified.

*This type of investigation is provided for by s.98 of the Garda Síochána Act, 2005, which confers on Garda Ombudsman investigators the legal powers required to conduct a criminal investigation.