Judge critical of Limerick gardai as harassment case is struck out

Judge Marian O’Leary struck out the charges

Judge Marian O’Leary struck out the charges

THE case of a young man facing harassment, assault and criminal damage charges in Limerick was struck out due to a communications breakdown within An Garda Siochana.

The 24-year-old defendant, who has an address in the city, had pleaded guilty to three charges relating to an incident in the early hours of May 28, 2016.

Limerick District Court was told the man had been in “constant digital communication” with his ex girlfriend and that following an exchange of messages at around 5am he travelled to her home in a village in County Limerick.

Having arrived at the house, he smashed the windows of a van which was parked outside before making his way to the woman’s bedroom.

Judge Marian O’Leary was told that while remonstrating with the woman, a friend of hers, who was also in the room, sustained facial injuries when she was struck by the defendant.

After the young man entered a guilty plea in March of this year, Judge O’Leary directed that victim impact statements be prepared for the court before she imposed sentence.

This was not done by June and when the case was before the court in July, she was told there were difficulties with the content of the statements which had been prepared.

Sergeant John Moloney said they were “not acceptable” to the State nor the defendant’s solicitor and therefore could not be admitted in evidence.

In July, gardai undertook to address the matter but during a review of the case earlier this month, Sgt Moloney said this had not been done.

When asked, he told Judge O’Leary the sergeant overseeing the case was notified of the difficulty in July and was asked to rectify matters.

However, he said the garda dealing with the matter transferred to another station (in Limerick) in the meantime and was not advised of the difficulty.

“He (the sergeant) did not inform the investigating member,” said Sgt Moloney who confirmed nobody was asked to contact the victims.

Noting the explanation, the judge said it was not acceptable that the investigating garda had not been asked to rectify matters by his former sergeant.

“It is ridiculous, it is not fair on any of the (named) victims,” she said.

The judge noted the defendant, who was present in court, had pleaded guilty and accepts that people were affected by his actions.

Solicitor John Herbert for the accused said his client was remorseful and that he has apologised. 

He said there was an “element of recklessness” to the assault and that full compensation has been paid in relation to the damage to the van.

Mr Herbert said there has been no contact between his client, who works full time, and his ex-girlfriend since the incident.

“He accepts that everything that occurred was wrong and that he should not have been there,” he said.

Having considered the matter and noting that gardai had not provided an adequate reason in relation to the victim impact statements, the judge struck out the case.

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