A garda who was caught looking through the window of the women’s changing room at Clifden Garda station has received a six-month prison sentence.
At Galway District Court, Judge Marie Keane said a custodial sentence was appropriate in the case of Mícheal Mannion (41).
Mannion, a married father of two, with an address at Toorena, Renvyle, was convicted earlier this year of two charges of harassing two woman colleagues at Clifden Garda station, contrary to section 10 of the Non Fatal Offences Against The Person Act.
Mannion, who the court heard received Garda commendations for his work in the area of sexual offences, denied harassing his supervising sergeant on dates between August 13th, 2019 and September 13th, 2019.
He denied a further charge of harassing another woman garda colleague, also at Clifden Garda station on dates between August 8th, 2019 and November 11th, 2019.
Camera footage previously played in court showed Mannion on six occasions climbing an outdoor steel railing to look in the women’s dressingroom at Clifden Garda station.
Mannion has been on suspension since the Garda investigation began.
One of the victims described Mannion’s behaviour as “callous and devious”.
At a sentencing hearing at Galway District Court, Judge Marie Keane said she has found the behaviour as “persistent” and “bordering on the obsessive”.
The judge noted that both victims are getting assistance and have suffered injuries including psychological trauma and loss of income. The judge said both victims had said they were “re-traumatised” when they looked at CCTV of the offences.
Judge Keane said the court also noted the commendations handed into court for Mannion’s work as a garda. Judge Keane said the accused has no previous convictions and an unblemished career up to this point.
The two women who Mannion harassed were visibly emotional as they read their victim statements. In her statement, the woman sergeant said everything has changed dramatically for her. “From the moment I caught the accused looking in the window at me, I can without a doubt say this was the start of a downward spiral for me. Faced with an unprecedented situation, it was me who took into account the accused’s family and the repercussions he would face at work,” she said.
She said what happened was a “complete invasion of my privacy” and a “personal attack”.
The second woman garda harassed by Mannion told the court that what happened “changed my life forever”
The garda said Mannion’s offending had a “damning and devastating effect on me and my family”.
“I never expected to be made a victim by another member of An Garda Suíochana in my own workplace, a Garda station where everyone expects to be safe,” she added.
After Judge Keane said it was concerning the court had not heard directly from Mannion, the garda apologised in person to the victims. “I am genuinely and sincerely sorry” he said from the witness box. “You were my colleagues and friends and I’m sorry for what I did.”