State granted more time to prepare cases against Gardai and retired Superintendent accused of attempting to pervert course of justice

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THE State has been granted more time to compile Books of Evidence against four gardai and a retired Superintendent who are charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice in respect of road traffic matters and the operation of the penalty points system.

The charges relate to a two-year investigation into alleged wrongdoing by garda members in the Southern region, led by the Dublin-based Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (GNBCI), headed by Detective Chief Superintendent Walter O’Sullivan.

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The five defendants, who were not in court today as the State sought a two-week adjournment in order to have Books of Evidence ready, are: retired Superintendent Edmund ‘Eamon’ O’Neill, formerly Roxboro Road garda station; Sergeant Michelle Leahy, Roxboro Road garda station; Sergeant Anne-Marie Hassett; Kerry Garda Division and formerly Limerick Garda Division; Garda Tom McGlinchey, Murroe garda station; and Garda Colm Geary, Clare Garda Division.

They face a total of 42 counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice, between October 9, 2016 and September 6, 2019, and are accused of communicating with other gardai and civilians about fixed charge penalty points relating to alleged road traffic offences.

Dan O’Gorman, solicitor for Mr O’Neill and Sgt Hassett, said he was “not consenting” to an application by Chief Superintendent O’Sullivan for a two-week adjournment.

“I’m not consenting, this investigation is going on now for 84 weeks, I want to express my disquiet and disappointment (at the delay),” Mr O’Gorman told Judge Marian O’Leary.

The judge noted the solicitor’s objection, but she said the State were still within the 42-day period required by law to finalise the Books of Evidence from the date the five accused were charged.

Chief O’Sullivan sought the period of adjournment in respect of all five accused, and said: “I’m told the Books of Evidence are well prepared.”

Eamon O’Neill is charged with 30 of the 42 alleged offences; Sergeant Leahy two offences; Garda McGlinchey, a former manager of the Waterford senior football team, faces four counts; Garda Geary, three counts; and Sgt Hassett three counts.

According to one of the charges as set out in court documents, Mr O’Neill is alleged to have advised a member of the public “how to offset penalty points in respect of a speeding detection”.

The fixed charged penalty notices relate to alleged cases against parties, including a number of sporting and media figures, for alleged speeding, failing to produce insurance, holding a mobile phone while driving, failing to wear a seatbelt, and driving without insurance.

On May 14th last, when the charges were initially brought agonist the five defendants, Mr O’Gorman, told the court Eamon O’Neill would be “vigorously contesting” all of the charges.

All five were arrested by appointment on April 29th last, at Mayorstone Garda Station, in Limerick, the court heard.

None of the five accused replied when charged, it was also heard.

The DPP has directed that each of the five accused are to face trial on indictment.

The charges follow a two-year probe by the GNBCI who conducted a major intelligence operation which led to a series of searches across the mid west, after Detectives suspected a number of fixed charge penalty points notices were not proceeded with.

At today’s hearing, Judge O’Leary granted the State two-week “time extensions” and remanded all five on continuing bail to appear before Limerick District Court again on July 2 for service of the five Books of Evidence.

The five accused have not yet appeared before the court, but they are required to be in court when the Books of Evidence are served on them next month.