Garda trauma: Sean was a garda for six weeks when he saw his first body

Serving and retired gardaí describe the ordeal of dealing with crashes, suicides and violent crimes

William Horgan, retired garda, at his home in Dundalk. He recalls a car accident in the early 1990s involving a family car and a cattle truck. “The entire family was wiped out. Even talking about it now is difficult enough.”  Photograph: Alan Betson

William Horgan, retired garda, at his home in Dundalk. He recalls a car accident in the early 1990s involving a family car and a cattle truck. “The entire family was wiped out. Even talking about it now is difficult enough.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Sean* was only six weeks qualified as a garda when he saw his first body. A woman had been found murdered in her house in south Dublin city and it was his job to “preserve the scene”.

Garda regulations state a body found in suspicious circumstances cannot be left alone even for a second until a postmortem. This meant the young garda staying in the house for much of the night, alone with the remains.

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