Calls for public inquiry into Garda handling of cyclist’s death

Man driving car that hit Shane O’Farrell ‘should have been in prison’, says family

 

The family of a hit-and-run victim killed by a man they say should have been in prison at the time has attracted widespread political support for a public inquiry into the Garda handling of the case.

Shane O’Farrell (23) was run down while cycling on the N2 between Carrickmacross and Castleblayney on August 2nd, 2011.

The driver of the car, Zigimantas Gridzuiska, who fled the scene, had been before the courts on numerous unrelated charges and released on several bail bonds.

The O’Farrell family say his continued breach of bail conditions meant he should have been in custody at the time of the crash.

A report by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc), finalised last month after six years of investigations, found gardaí made no attempt to return Gridzuiska before the courts when he had committed subsequent offences in breach of bail conditions.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Mr O’Farrell’s mother, Lucia, dismissed the Gsoc report as “inadequate” and “unsatisfactory” and called for a full public inquiry.

TD support

Those calls have attracted widespread cross-party support of TDs, many of whom attended the briefing.

Fianna Fáil’s John McGuinness branded the Gsoc report a “cover-up” and appealed to the numerous politicians present to raise the issue with their respective parties saying an inquiry was now “absolutely necessary”.

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith said the report was a “botched piece of work” and “another example of how the Irish State deeply disrespects its citizens and drags them through years and years of pain and agony”.

Gsoc was investigating whether gardaí had committed any criminal offences in their handling of the case and found they had not.

The O’Farrell family has undertaken extensive research into the history of Gridzuiska and say they provided Gsoc with 12 court orders relating to him.

“Shane should be alive. This would never have happened if the gardaí had done their basic duty,” Ms O’Farrell said.

“Bail had no legal meaning for this individual and bail had no legal meaning for the gardaí.”

Lack of detail

She said the Gsoc investigation findings lacked detail, did not reflect six years of investigation and did not consider “how the gardaí failed in their duty to adhere to court orders”.

In a report on the case on Tuesday, RTÉ’s Prime Time said that in the 19 months prior to Mr O’Farrell’s death, Gridzuiska had committed more than 25 offences, mainly for heroin possession, theft and handling stolen goods. He was bailed numerous times but continued to commit offences.

It noted in particular that three weeks before Mr O’Farrell’s death, Gridzuiska was convicted of theft in Newry. This should have led to his imprisonment in the Republic for breach of bail conditions.

“If our justice system had been operating effectively, he wouldn’t have been in a car on that occasion [of Mr O’Farrell’s death], he would have been incarcerated,” Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesman, Jim O’Callaghan, told the programme.

He said he believed there was a “relaxed attitude” toward the breaching of bail bonds in Ireland.