Garda held over alleged sex assault
A Garda based in the Midlands has become the first member of the force to be arrested by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, following his detention this morning on suspicion of a serious sexual assault.
The suspect, who is in his 20s, went by arrangement to Loughrea Garda station in Co Galway and was arrested by investigators from the commission.
He is being held under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act and can be held for up to 24 hours without charge.
The man is being investigated after a woman alleged he had raped her just over one year ago.
The suspect is a rank and file member of the force and was officially suspended from duty by Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan following his arrest today.
The commission has been investigating the case since the complaint was made and has interviewed one person and gathered other evidence.
While commission members have all the powers of a Garda, the power of arrest has not been used by its members since it began operations almost six years ago.
Garda members who have been investigated for serious offences have always met with commission investigators by appointment and been interviewed under caution.
However, The Irish Times understands the serious nature of the offence in the latest investigation led to the decision by the commission to arrest him for questioning.
The allegation at the centre of the case involves a rape allegedly committed around the time the complaint was made just over 12 months ago. The complaint is not historical. The Garda was not on duty at the time of the alleged offence.
However, the commission was established to investigate all complaints made against members of the force relating to their activities while on duty and off duty.
The commission has its own investigators who are effectively civilian detectives with all the power of a Garda. As well as having the power to arrest gardaí, they can also conduct searches under warrant, seize items of evidential value and declare an area a crime scene.
They can search the homes of gardaí and can search and seize their private vehicles. They have in the past also carried out surprise raids on Garda stations and sealed them off from members based there until their searches are complete.