Garda whistleblower tells tribunal he was ignored by management

William Hughes raised raising ‘serious allegations’ over the murder of Baiba Saulite

A Garda whistleblower said he was ignored by management when making “the most serious allegations” an officer could make in raising “systematic failures” over the murder of Baiba Saulite, a tribunal has been told.

The mother-of-two was shot dead at her home in Swords, Co Dublin in November 2006. Her murder remains unsolved.

In 2008, then Sgt William Hughes, who retired from the force in 2013, made a protected disclosure on "policing issues" before Ms Saulite's murder and on certain events in the aftermath that the tribunal is investigating.

He alleged that the case of Ms Saulite, who had been subjected to domestic abuse prior to her murder, had been mishandled.


After the Swords-based sergeant made his views known to fellow gardaí, he himself was investigated for “failure to take appropriate action on information known in respect of Ms Saulite”, which he denied.

On Friday, Sgt Hughes told counsel for the tribunal Patrick Marrinan SC that after he made his disclosure he suffered “harassment, bullying, targeting and isolation” from his superiors.

An investigation was begun by Garda management into whether or not Sgt Hughes’ health issues amount to a work-related injury. After surpassing 183 days of missing work, Sgt Hughes, by January 2009, had his pay halved while the investigation into his health was active.

The Garda Chief Medical Officer Dr Richard Quigley and Garda human resources differed on whose role it was to categorise Sgt Hughes’ illness and this caused a delay, said Mr Marrinan.

Sgt Hughes accepted that the delay did not appear to be manufactured but said that he was “seriously inconvenienced” during this time by having his pay docked.

Judge Sean Ryan asked if one of the issues Sgt Hughes had was around the quality of policing in Ms Saulite's case before her murder and was told "yes".


Sgt Hughes said his allegation of harassment stemmed from him not being listened to by Garda management when he raised his concerns.

He said that he was then subject to a “totally unnecessary” discipline procedure which was eventually dropped by management, albeit after two years.

Sgt Hughes said the disclosures he made to the Confidential Recipient were “the most serious allegations” regarding the policing issues but that Assistant Commissioner Michael Feehan did not address these.

When pressed by Judge Ryan about exactly who Sgt Hughes believed had bullied him, he named his superiors, Asst Comm Feehan and Asst Comm Al McHugh, who “singled out my work”.

He said the alleged harassment was carried out by Insp Donal Waters and Supt Mark Curran because they “did not listen to what I said” regarding his claim of systematic failings.

All of Mr Hughes' allegations are denied by An Garda Síochána.

Mr Hughes said the lack of response from Garda management underpinned his allegation of being isolated by his superiors.

On October 20th, 2006, Sgt Hughes told colleagues of his concerns for Ms Saulite, arising out of a history of her being a victim of domestic violence.

Sgt Hughes denied to the internal investigation that he had read a victim impact statement by Ms Saulite. The investigation into him concluded “it is unlikely that the (statement) contents could be interpreted as a real and substantial risk to the life of Ms Baiba Saulite”.

In June 2009, the disciplinary action was discontinued on the orders of Asst Comm McHugh who said Sgt Hughes was “completely exonerated . . . with no blemish on his character or history”.

In February 2013, after being out sick for all of 2012, Sgt Hughes retired from the force on medical grounds after he received a retirement certificate from Dr Quigley.

The tribunal, which is sitting in Dublin Castle and was set up in the main to examine allegations made by Sgt Maurice McCabe and other whistleblowers, continues next week.