Gardaí drinking seized alcohol 'common practice'


A FORMER garda at Bray station has claimed it is common practice for members of the force to consume alcoholic drink seized by the Garda. The claim was made by James Murphy in statements prepared for Det Insp Frank Keeneghan, who was appointed to carry out an investigation into allegations against the former garda.

Mr Murphy, of Duncormack, New Ross, is before Wicklow Circuit Court sitting in Bray accused of dishonestly appropriating for himself two slabs of Bulmers cider which had been stolen by two youths from a Centra shop in Dargle Road, Bray, in June 2009. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

In his statements, Mr Murphy said no official complaint about the stolen cider had been made within six months and taking a case had become statute barred. He had attempted several times to contact Tania Williams from the Centra shop but she had never got back to him.

Mr Murphy’s statements said the cider was taken to a house party and consumed. It was destroyed in that manner. That was a common practice. He did not consume any of it himself.

Det Insp Keeneghan said a case of theft never became statute barred, even if a complaint was not made within six months. The theft from Centra never became statute barred. He got Ms Williams’s phone number from Mr Murphy’s locker and had no problem in contacting her.

Det Insp Keeneghan said the claim in Mr Murphy’s statement that it was common practice that drink was consumed was untrue. It never happened. The Garda code of conduct never made any mention of that. Mr Murphy was simply incorrect in what he said.

Insp Michael Walsh said he met Mr Murphy on February 8th, 2010. Mr Murphy told him he had seized the drink. Asked if it was in the property store, he said it was not. Asked where it was, he replied: “It is gone.”

Asked in cross-examination if he had told Mr Murphy to bury the file and never bring it up again, Insp Walsh said that conversation never took place.

Insp Walsh, who was asked to prepare a report for the Garda Commissioner, agreed there was a certain amount of difficulty in relation to Mr Murphy – a probation garda at the time – his suitability for the Garda and whether he would be appointed. He said Mr Murphy had received a citation for jumping into a river in Cork.

Garda Philip Sheridan was asked by defence counsel if he had made a suggestion in Bray Garda station about having a “little competition to see who would seize the most beer for a barbecue being held in the station”.

“Certainly not, absolutely not,” Garda Sheridan replied.

The trial continues.