Donegal false imprisonment case settled


A woman who sued the Garda Comissioner and the State alleging she was falsely imprisoned and assaulted by gardaí investigating the controversial death of cattle dealer Richie Barron in Co Donegal in 1996 has settled her High Court action.

Katrina Brolly (50), Guesthouse End, Raphoe, Co Donegal, who was detained for 12 hours, sought damages for alleged false imprisonment, assault, emotional and physical harm, neglect, breach of duty and breach of her constitutional rights.

The case was scheduled for hearing before a jury today but, following talks between the sides, Declan Doyle SC, for Ms Brolly, told Mr Justice Eamon de Valera it was settled. No details were revealed in court and afterwards both sides said the terms of settlement were confidential.

The defendants had denied the claims. While admitting Ms Brolly was arrested on December 4th 1996, the defendants claimed she was detained lawfully and also denied her arrest, detention and questioning were based on unfounded suspicion of being an accessory after the fact to the murder of Richie Barron.

The defendants denied allegations of assault, intimidation, and “terrorising tactics”, denied Ms Brolly’s reputation was injured or that she suffered personal injury and emotional trauma, loss and damage.

In her statement of claim, Ms Brolly alleged she was arrested on December 4th, 1996 and taken to Letterkenny Garda station where she was detained under the Criminal Justice Act and questioned over the “alleged but unfounded suspicion” of being an accessory after the fact to the murder of Mr Barron in October 1996.

Ms Brolly alleged she was threatened by Sergeant John White and other gardaí that she would not be released from custody until she signed a statement that she had no complaints relating to her period of detention.

She claimed she was advised the State had a voice recording of her establishing her guilt and complicity in the murder of Richie Barron.

She alleged photographs of the body of Mr Barron were pushed into her face and she was forced to look at those to her great distress. Lights were switched on and off repeatedly to disorient her, she also claimed.

She claimed it was alleged she was the “ringleader” relating to the death of Mr Barron, arranged to burn the clothes of other persons to destroy evidence and coached others about what to say and do. She alleged she was also was told her children would be taken from her and placed into care.

Further claims included she was made to stand in the middle of the floor for some time, told Mr Barron would come back to haunt her, repeatedly advised she would be going to prison for 14 years and threatened her elderly mother would be arrested and taken into custody.

She claimed she was also told her employers would be told of her complicity in the murder of Mr Barron which would result in her losing her job. In this regard, her emloyers were subsequently unlawfully and maliciously advised and the defendants had waged a campaign of terror, intimidation, rumour and innuendo against her, she claimed.

It was further alleged members of the Garda engaged in a clandestine special operation vendetta against her and her family. In all those circumstances, she claimed she suffered severely in her reputation and was brought into public scandal, odium and contempt. She was severely shocked and shaken from her ordeal with the level and extent of its brutality, she also claimed.

After today’s settlement, Ms Brolly said: “It’s just great it’s all over. It was a tough 13 years but we got through. I had two sisters lifted as well.”

Her solicitor Ken Smyth said it had been 13 years but Ms Brolly had been vindicated comprehensively in the Morris Tribunal. “It’s been an excellent outcome and we are very happy with it,” he said. There were other cases pending, he added.