Man fined for making false report to GSOC

28 Nov 2019

A man was fined €800 in the Dublin District Court after being convicted of knowingly making a false report in relation to a complaint to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

The man was charged with an offence under section 12 of the Criminal Law Act, 1976.

The case arose from a complaint which the man made to GSOC about a reserve garda who was involved in seizing a vehicle driven by the man. The man who was driving a friend’s car, was stopped at a Garda checkpoint in Dublin on a date in 2017 and was told that the vehicle, which had no tax or NCT, was to be seized.

When the man realised that the vehicle was going to be driven away by the reserve garda rather than placed on a recovery truck, he and the owner of the vehicle who had arrived at the scene remonstrated with the reserve garda as the reserve garda was turning and driving off in the vehicle.

The man subsequently made a number of allegations in relation to how the reserve garda was driving, including that the reserve garda had turned the steering wheel and accelerated at him—he said that reserve garda had placed him in danger and he feared for his safety.

The man completed a GSOC complaint form, setting out his complaint, at a garda station—and the form was forwarded to GSOC. The complaint was admitted by GSOC for investigation.

Initial enquiries by GSOC included obtaining CCTV footage from the scene of the Garda checkpoint. The CCTV footage was viewed by GSOC investigators and did not appear to show the reserve garda driving in the manner that had been alleged.

The footage appeared to show that the man may have provided false or misleading information. GSOC investigators made several attempts to engage with the man for the purpose of attending for an interview, but the man did not respond.

It appeared that the man may have provided false or misleading information and GSOC sent a file to the DPP. The man was subsequently summonsed to appear in the District Court and the case was heard in Dublin District Court in October 2019.

The man pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Witnesses for the State included a garda sergeant who told the court that he had explained the offence of providing false or misleading information to GSOC to the man when the man was filling out the complaint form in a garda station.

The CCTV footage was played in full in court.

The District Court Judge found the man guilty of the charge against him. She said that she accepted that the man’s annoyance and the seizure of the car at the scene was only background to the essential issue which was whether the reserve garda complained of did as the man said in the complaint form. She found that there was nothing to show that the reserve garda had accelerated the car and nothing to show that the man was ever in danger.

The judge found a fine to be the appropriate punishment in this case and fined the defendant €800.

NOTE: It is an offence under section 12 of the Criminal Law Act, 1976 to knowingly make ‘a false report or statement tending to show that an offence has been committed’.

It is also an offence under section 110 of the Garda Síochána Act, 2005 (as amended) to provide information to GSOC in relation to a complaint or investigation which the person ‘knows to be false or misleading’.