Solicitor for retired Superintendent charged with 30 counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice, raises disquiet over investigation

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A solicitor representing a retired Garda Superintendent who is charged with multiple counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice, has complained in court about the length of time it is taking the State to prepare a Book of Evidence against his client.

Edmund “Eamon” O’Neill, previously a Superintendent attached to Roxboro Road Garda Station in Limerick, is charged with 30 offences relating to alleged road traffic offences and the operation of the penalty points system.

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Mr O’Neill, (54), denies the charges, and his solictior, Dan O’Gorman, said he will be “vigorously contesting” the State’s evidence at trial.

The case was listed at the District Court on Friday for service of the State’s Book of Evidence against the former Superintendent, and four others, however prosecutor Detective Chief Superintendent Walter O’Sullivan, Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (GNBCI), said the Books were “well prepared” but not yet completed.

He sought an adjournment to July 2 when, and he said, the Books would be ready.

Responding in the court, Mr O’Gorman said he was “not consenting (to the adjournment)” and expressed his “disquiet” that the Books were not ready despite the lengthy investigation.

“This investigation is going on now for 84 weeks, I want to express my disquiet, and disappointment (at the delay). It is very surprising,” Mr O’Gorman told Judge Marian O’Leary.

Mr O’Gorman made similar comments in respect of his client Sergeant Anne Marie Hassett, formerly Limerick Garda Division who is currently serving in the Kerry Division.

Sergeant Hassett is charged as part of the same investigation with three counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Also charged with the same offence, in connection with the same investigation, are: Sergeant Michelle Leahy, Roxboro Road Garda station (2 counts); Garda Tom McGlinchey, Murroe Garda Station (4 counts); and Garda Colm Geary, Clare Garda Division, (3 counts).

All five defendants were arrested on April 29th this year at Mayorstone Garda Station in Limerick and remanded on station bail to appear before Limerick District Court on May 14th last when the charges were first heard.

The charges relate to a two-year investigation, led by the Det Chief Supt O’Sullivan, into alleged wrongdoing by garda members in the Southern region.

The five accused face a combined 42 counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice, on dates between October 9, 2016 and September 6, 2019.

In the course of their alleged actions they are alleged to have been in communication with other gardai and civilians about fixed charge penalty points relating to alleged road traffic offences.

The charges against the five accused relate to fixed charged penalty notices regarding alleged cases against a number of individuals.

These include a number of well known sporting and media figures, and involve offences of alleged speeding, failing to produce insurance, holding a mobile phone while driving, failing to wear a seatbelt, and driving without insurance.

The DPP has directed that all five accused are to face trial on indictment.

The GNBCI 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 Friday’s hearing, Judge O’Leary noted Mr O’Gorman’s objections, however she granted the State “time extensions” to prepare the books, and said the application for the adjournment fell within the normal six-week time limit for serving books of evidence.

The judge remanded all five on continuing bail to appear before Limerick District Court again on July 2 for service of the Books of Evidence.

The five accused have, by consent, not yet appeared before the court, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The accused are required to be in court when the Books of Evidence are due to be served on them next month.