Former Garda’s alleged relationship with Hutch gang at centre of investigation

Detectives trying to determine if officer maintained gang contacts after retirement

An alleged working relationship between a former senior Garda officer and members of the Hutch organised crime group has prompted an investigation that resulted in the retired officer’s arrest last week and the suspension of a serving member of the Garda force.

The Irish Times understands the former senior officer had contacts with Hutch gang members during his time working in the force. Such dealings between Garda members and criminals are not unusual and would not lead to suspicion once they were properly registered and recorded and conducted within protocols.

However, detectives from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) are now trying to determine if the former officer maintained those contacts after his retirement up to the point of aiding the criminals.

Specifically, gardaí are investigating if serving members of the force passed information to their retired colleague, which was then provided to Hutch gang members to enhance the activities of that crime group. Phone records and searches on the Garda’s Pulse database were now being reviewed as part of the investigation.

Last Wednesday a Garda team searched five properties in Dublin, including the homes of the retired Garda officer and the two serving gardaí. Cannabis valued at €600,000 and about €47,000 in cash was found at a property linked to the retired officer.

Garda Headquarters said the former officer was arrested "on suspicion of involvement in offences ... relating to allegedly enhancing the ability of a criminal organisation to commit or facilitate a serious offence". He remained in custody, in Irishtown Garda station in south Dublin on Sunday night.

Phones seized

The two serving Garda members who were also targeted in searches have remained friends with the former senior officer. Neither of the serving Garda members has been arrested and investigators targeted them in searches as part of the evidence-gathering phase of their investigation.

Mobile phones were seized and these were now being analysed to determine the contacts the senior Garda officer had with the two serving gardaí and also if he had remained in contact with Hutch gang members.

However, Garda sources stressed the two serving gardaí have a social relationship away from work, adding both had also remained close to the former Garda officer even though he has been retired for some years.

The same sources said the investigation was now examining the nature of the contacts between the two serving gardaí and the retired officer, but stressed there were no negative findings against the serving gardaí, nor were they accused of wrongdoing.

Instead, their contacts with the retired officer were being examined as part of the investigation now underway into the allegations against the retired officer. One of the serving Garda members was suspended from duty last Friday as the investigation continues, while the second serving Garda member was not suspended and was continuing in his role.

The arrested former officer was held for an initial period of 48 hours into last Friday, when investigating gardaí applied to the courts for an additional 72 hours to question the man, a married father in his 60s.

That additional 72 hours was granted and was set to expire on Monday when his detention must be extended again for a final 48 hours or he must be released from custody without charge.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times