Inquiry into Rossiter's death to have full powers - McDowell

 

The inquiry into the death of a 14-year-old boy who died after falling into a coma in Garda custody will have full powers, the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, pledged today.

The family of Brian Rossiter had expressed concern that the legislation being used for the inquiry may limit its scope.

But the Department of Justice said barrister Hugh Hartnett would be inquire into all the circumstances surrounding the arrest and treatment of their son, and the role of all Gardaí who came into contact with him that night.

“The Minister is completely satisfied that this can be achieved through the inquiry format which has been decided upon, ie the Dublin Police Act 1924, as amended,” said a spokeswoman.

The act, which is being used in preference to the legislation to set up the Garda Ombudsman Commission, would give the inquiry the power to compel any witness to attend, such as retired members of the gardaí.

Brian Rossiter was taken into custody in Clonmel Garda Station on September 10 2002 on suspicion of public order offences. He had been involved in a row two days previously which had left him with two black eyes and a headache.

But he was found comatose in his cell the following morning and died two days later in hospital.

His father, Pat Rossiter, has said that after three years of silence, the family were desperate to find out what had happened on the night their son was held at Clonmel Garda station.

“First I want to know why Brian was arrested, what the circumstances of his arrest and detention were and what really happened in the Garda station,” he said.

He added: “We want to know why myself and Brian's mother, were told he had been on a four or five day binge of drink and drugs when the toxicology reports suggested he had no drink or drugs taken.”

Mr McDowell has already written to the solicitors hired by the teenager's family to apologise for his department's inadequate response to correspondence they had sent last year.

PA