Former detective claims harassment by Garda colleagues

Wed, Oct 10, 2012, 01:00

A FORMER detective garda who was involved in several high-profile criminal investigations has claimed before the High Court he was subjected to a campaign of harassment and bullying by other members of the force.

William Browne (55), who retired from the force last year after 33 years, has brought an action against the Garda Commissioner and Minister for Justice.

He claims that while stationed at Kilmainham Garda station from 2000 onwards he was subjected to a campaign of intimidation and harassment there which included being subjected to false and unjustified disciplinary charges under the Garda disciplinary code.

He alleges bullying via incidents including his being banned from using Garda vehicles for some time after a car he had been driving was stolen; having his gun taken from him for a period; and being blamed for losing evidence to be used in a criminal trial.

He claims he was defamed by the defendants in a leaflet circulated in the Garda station and that his complaints to his superiors about the alleged bullying were not taken seriously and nothing was done about them.

As a result of the defendants’ alleged negligence and breach of duty of care towards him, he suffered emotional and mental distress, he claims.

The defendants deny the claims.

Yesterday, the court heard the former detective, represented by Jim O’Callaghan SC and John O’Donnell SC, was stationed for most of his career at Kevin Street and Kilmainham Garda stations and was involved in the investigation of a number of serious crimes.

Mr O’Callaghan said that between 2000 and his leaving the force Mr Browne was subjected to 12 incidents on which his claim was based and which undermined his client’s dignity.

The problems began in 2000 when his client was sent to Naas as part of the investigation into two murders, counsel said.

Mr Browne travelled to Naas daily for several months. When he applied for a subsistence allowance, to which he was entitled and which other gardaí on the case received, he was refused.

Later that year he brought an unmarked Garda car from Naas to Kilmainham but, as the station’s car park was full, he locked it and left it outside the station. The car was stolen and, as a result, he was later informed he was no longer allowed to use Garda vehicles.

He was informed this was due to negligence on his part, counsel said.

In 2001 a leaflet supporting a campaign against the development of a local site was circulated in Kilmainham Garda station. While it had Mr Browne’s signature, he had not signed it and the signature was copied from an official Garda document. It was defamatory because it wrongly suggested Mr Browne had engaged in activities of a political nature inconsistent with his responsibilities as a garda, counsel said.

The hearing before Mr Justice Kevin Cross is expected to last several days.