Man wrongly freed from custody stabbed mother, Gsoc finds
Celyn Eadon mistakenly allowed to leave court and murdered mother 3 weeks later
On foot of an incorrect release of a man from custody Gsoc has suggested some members of the force required training in basic administration.
A warrant issued by a judge ordering a criminal be remanded in custody was never executed by the Garda and subsequently went missing, leaving the man to walk free only to stab his mother to death three weeks later, an investigation has found.
The inquiry by the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) has also revealed the warrant could not even be located by its investigators.
Gsoc found a range of serious shortcomings in how the Garda, Irish Prison Service and Courts Service communicated and said clear procedures governing custody and the remand of suspects needed to be agreed and formalised.
In an embarrassing recommendation for the Garda, it has suggested some members of the force required training in basic administration.
However, the investigation by Gsoc has concluded the role of the Garda in properly managing the custody of suspects cannot be viewed in isolation when different agencies of the State intersect.
On February 16th, 2011, Offaly man Celyn Eadon (19) was remanded in custody at Castlebar District Court but was mistakenly allowed to walk out of the court that day.
Within three weeks he stabbed to death his mother Noreen Kelly-Eadon at their home in Derrynacrieve, Islandeady, Castlebar, after she threw his bag of drugs on the fire to destroy them.
In February of last year he was convicted of the murder and is serving life in prison, having stabbed his 46-year-old Ms Eadon 19 times.
The confusion about his release arose on February 16th, 2011, after Judge Mary Devins made a number of different orders in relation to Eadon at Castlebar District Court.
He was already remanded in custody at the time and was taken from Castlereagh Prison that morning to Castlebar Garda station and then on to the court sitting.
In the court, he was remanded in custody in relation to 17 summonses, to appear before Achill District Court on March 10th, 2011.
Another six summonses were adjourned; to be dealt with at the same court appearance on March 10th.
And on a new charge of theft, put to him that morning before the court hearing, he was released on his own bail of €50.
The gardaí in the court mistakenly formed the view he had been freed on bail in relation to all matters before the court and he was freed.
A committal warrant was given to the gardaí by the court that day but it was never executed, was never tracked and went missing and has never been located.
A dispute arose around which individual gardaí Eadon’s committal warrant had been assigned to execute. The name of the Garda would have been written on the warrant that was never located.
The Gsoc inquiry found the gardaí charged with executing committal warrants in relation five prisoners from the court that day noticed one was for Eadon.
But he was not among the group of suspects taken from Castlebar court house to the Garda station pending their transfer back to prison just after the court sitting.
The gardaí responsible for the transfer of the suspects back to prison formed the view Eadon may have already been returned to the jail, albeit without a warrant, and went to the jail to investigate.
The report then concludes: “Having made enquiries, the member in charge of the escort party formed the opinion that there was a doubt about the validity of the warrant.
“The member, who was not attached to Castlebar Garda station, then took the decision to return the warrant to Castlebar Garda station for the attention of the member who had allocated the warrants to the escort parties.
“It is not known what exactly happened to the warrant thereafter. For the purposes of this examination, it is sufficient to state that the original has not been located, a copy was not retained, the warrant was not executed and the status of the warrant was not tracked by the Garda Síochána. ”
Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said the Gsoc report contained “valuable and constructive recommendations”.
“I very much regret the tragic situation that has occurred,” she added.
“Obviously, the main issue at this stage is to ensure that such a serious breakdown at operational level should not happen again.”
“I have consulted with the Garda Commissioner and I welcome the plans by An Garda Síochána to develop a new strategy on custody management and their commitment to address the other recommendations made by GSOC.”
The Garda Ombudsman has recommended a clear protocol for handling the custody of prisoners and suspects appearing before the courts, which would take informality out of existing practices, needed to be agreed.
This would involve the Garda and Irish Prison Service.
Gsoc also said gardaí needed training in handling custody and remand matters in the courts, adding they needed to make themselves fully aware of the status in that regard of people appearing before the courts.
All warrants, including committal remand warrants, should be entered onto the Garda’s PULSE computerised database without delay. It added details of bail decisions and conditions should also be entered onto PULSE without delay.
It added: “This does not detract however from the principle that members of the Garda Síochána are legally bound to execute all warrants properly addressed to them and to obey the directions contained thereon.”