Fifteen gardaí received counselling after visiting Cork murder scene

GRA says many members left distressed after visiting crime scenes are unaware of supports

Micholaj and Elzbieta Wilk. Photograph: Provision.

Micholaj and Elzbieta Wilk. Photograph: Provision.

 

Fifteen members of An Garda Síochana underwent counselling after they responded to a violent murder in Co Cork earlier this year, the Garda Representative Associaiton (GRA) has said.

The GRA has called for such services to be made available to members of the force who attend crime scenes after it emerged that the officers had received counselling after the murder of Polish man Mikolaj Wilk (35) in Ballincollig in June. He died after being attacked by a machete wielding gang at his home.

GRA Cork City representative Padraig Harrington said Supt Colm O’Sullivan of Gurranebraher Garda station, who is leading the investigation into Mr Wilk’s death, made sure that all officers who responded to the incident, or had direct contact with the scene or victims, were provided with counselling.

Mr Wilk suffered extensive slash and hack wounds to his body, head and limbs in the attack while his wife also suffered slash and hack wounds to her hands as she tried to protect her husband. The assault was witnessed by their two young children, who were left deeply traumatised.

Mr Harrington said experienced gardaí described the scene as the worst they had ever encountered, saying the house looked like something from the set of a horror film.

Trauma

A team of counsellors, who have worked with Dublin Fire Brigade staff to help them cope with the trauma they encounter in their work, travelled to Cork to meet those concerned and provided them with counselling over a number of days.

Those who availed of counselling included officers who assisted paramedics, dealt with the couple’s children, carried out a technical examination and attended the postmortem.

Mr Harrington said that while the situation was handled well on this occasion, protocols should be drawn up so that there are similar responses across all garda districts. Individual officers also needed to be made aware that such services were available if needed.

“Gardai come across a huge range of incidents in the course of their work and some can be very traumatic,” he said. “This was an exceptionally savage attack and was clearly upsetting for a lot of people but we need protocols so management and members know exactly when they can look for counselling.”

Meanwhile, garda sources are satisfied with the progress made in the Wilk case but say a lot of work needs to be done before they are in a position to bring those responsible for the attack to justice.

Mr Wilk’s wife Elzbieta and their children, a boy aged six and a girl aged five, later returned to her home town of Mogilno in Poland.