Widower of murdered woman appalled at O’Higgins report delay
Lorcan Roche Kelly says gardaí ‘incredibly unco-operative throughout entire process’
Lorcan Roche Kelly: “Nobody from the gardaí or the Department of Justice has ever said ‘This is where we failed and this is what we’re going to do’.” File photograph: Courts Collins
The widower of murdered woman Sylvia Roche Kelly whose case is included in the O’Higgins report says he is appalled by the length of time the report has taken to be published - and that he has no faith in the Garda Síochána.
The commission of investigation headed by Mr Justice Kevin O’Higgins was established to look into claims of Garda corruption that effectively led to the resignation of former minister for justice Alan Shatter and the early retirement of former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan.
The inquiry was established in February 2015 to examine the claims made by Sgt Maurice McCabe about corruption and malpractice in the Cavan-Monaghan division of the Garda.
The inquiry report was formally presented to the Department of Justice two weeks ago.
Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said in a statement that she was examining the report and consulting with the Attorney General with a view to arranging for publication as soon as possible at the time.
Sgt McCabe made a series of allegations of Garda misconduct, including malpractice and corruption relating to the Garda computer system, Pulse, and the handling of the case relating to Ms Roche Kelly.
The murdered woman’s husband, Lorcan Roche Kelly, has told RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke Show that his “biggest issue” was with “the obfuscation - what felt like a cover-up by the gardaí. It’s taken nine years to get this report.”
Mr Roche Kelly’s wife Sylvia was found lying face down in the bath of a hotel in December 2007, after she met her murderer while out celebrating her 33rd birthday. She was violently beaten and strangled.
Gerard McGrath, of Ballywalter, Knockavilla, Co Tipperary, was later sentenced at the Central Criminal Court to life imprisonment after admitting murdering Ms Roche Kelly at The Clarion Hotel, Limerick, on December 8th, 2007.
McGrath was on bail at that time on a charge of assaulting a female taxi driver in Virginia, Co Cavan in April 2007.
Mr Roche Kelly said he was disappointed that the O’Higgins commission did not look at what had happened after the original Cavan assault.
Last year, on behalf of his two children, he sued the State and other parties including the Garda Commissioner and Minister for Justice for damages, alleging his wife’s killer was “free to commit the crime of murder when he should have been in custody”. He was unsuccessful.
He claimed the failure and inaction of the defendants, in the context of a bail application, to inform the relevant court of certain other offences with which McGrath had been charged caused or contributed to the fact he was on bail when he should not have been.
“The gardaí have been incredibly unco-operative throughout this entire process to show what happened or to admit any failings.
“What really put salt on the wounds is that the gardaí decided to approach their own failings by denying the failings existed at all.
“Rather than admitting the problem and have to deal with it, they deny the problem exists at all in the hope that it will go away.
“That’s what I faced throughout this process. Nobody from the gardaí or the Department of Justice has ever said ‘This is where we failed and this is what we’re going to do.’
“If you hear about child abuse in the Catholic Church, you can stop going to Mass, but if you think that the Garda force is corrupt from the bottom up, you can’t leave the State. The gardaí are the State. As long as I live in Ireland the gardaí are going to have power over me.”
He said he was not satisfied with the report, but not surprised at the findings.