15: A complaint alleging neglect of duty, resolved by supervised disciplinary investigation


Background

A garda member was found to be in breach of the Discipline Regulations for neglect of duty and disobedience of orders over a failure to investigate in a timely fashion a complaint of sexual assault of a minor and failure to update the complainant on the investigation. The investigation began after a member of the public complained to GSOC about the length of time it took for gardaí to investigate allegations he had made. He also complained he had not been kept informed of the investigation into his complaint nor had he been updated as to the direction of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The complainant alleged that a relative, who was a child, was being groomed by a man. The complainant claimed that the garda he spoke to said he would send a file to the DPP. However, when the complainant contacted the DPP, he was told a file had not been sent. The garda had interviewed the child who said the relationship was consensual, and did not want garda involvement.

Action Taken

A Garda superintendent was appointed to conduct a supervised investigation—that is, an investigation supervised by a GSOC investigations officer. The investigation found that the person accused of the offence was not arrested for more than two years after the complainant reported the matter to gardaí. It was only after the man’s arrest that a file was sent to the DPP. The investigation also found that the garda member had failed to keep notes on the investigation and had failed to keep the complainant updated.

Outcome

The garda member had a duty to investigate a potential offence under section 3 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 2006 and submit a file for consideration of the DPP in a timely manner—but he had not done so. GSOC recommended that disciplinary proceedings be instituted against the garda on the basis that he failed to investigate a serious matter in a timely fashion. He also admitted that he kept no notes on either the investigation or his alleged contact with the person who had made the complaint. Disciplinary proceedings were taken by the Garda Síochána and the garda member was sanctioned.