Family of George Nkencho concerned at ‘snail’s pace’ of Gsoc inquiry

Armed garda shot 27-year-old during incident at his home in Clonee in December 2020

The solicitor for the family of George Nkencho, who was shot dead by gardaí more than a year ago, has expressed concerned over the "snail's pace" of the investigation into his death.

Phelim O'Neill said he believed that the conclusion of the investigation by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) remains some way off.

An inquest into the 27-year-old’s death has been repeatedly adjourned pending the conclusion of the Gsoc inquiry. It is due to sit again next month.

Gsoc had previously undertaken to complete its investigation by the first anniversary for Mr Nkencho’s death, which occurred on December 30th, 2020.

“It is operating at a snail’s pace. I have concerns that, although it is a criminal investigation, it is not being allocated the resources of a criminal investigation of this scale,” Mr O’Neill said.

It is understood that all the gardaí involved in the incident in Clonee, Dublin 15 have been interviewed. Mr Nkencho (27) was shot dead by a member of the Armed Support Unit outside his home during a stand-off with gardaí. He was armed with a knife and suffering from mental health difficulties at the time.

Following his death, gardaí said they had tried multiple non-lethal tactics to subdue Mr Nkencho prior to using deadly force.

“This investigation remains ongoing, and Gsoc is not in a position to comment further at this time,” a Gsoc spokesman said.

At the opening of the inquest in June of last year, Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said Mr Nkencho died from "multiple gunshots wounds to the trunk with no contributory factors" before adjourning the matter.

‘Demands’

At the time Gsoc said its inquiry was “part-way” complete and that it hoped to have it finished by the end of last year. It said in December that this deadline would not be met due to the “demands of the investigation”.

The full inquest cannot take place until the investigation concludes. However, it could be delayed further if Gsoc decides to recommend to the Director of Public Prosecutions that charges be brought over the shooting.

Barrister Seán Rafter, who is representing the Nkencho family, previously asked the inquest to not just consider the specific circumstances of Mr Nkencho’s death, but to examine the “broader circumstances of a young black man who died at the hands of a white police officer”.

He said the inquest should consider “broader questions of policing and discrimination”. He said the family was also concerned about “nasty rumours and lies” which spread online in the wake of the incident.

Dr Cullinane said the application may be somewhat premature but that she would give these matters “due cognisance while remaining within my powers under the Coroners Act”.

Gsoc has stated repeatedly that it needs more staff to deal with its caseload and has recently been granted permission to hire 22 additional employees.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime Correspondent of The Irish Times