Former garda gets suspended jail term for corruption

John O’Halloran lost his job, marriage and good name due to gambling addiction

Former garda John O’Halloran received a two-year suspended sentence for corruption. Photograph:  Cork Courts Limited

Former garda John O’Halloran received a two-year suspended sentence for corruption. Photograph: Cork Courts Limited

 

A former community garda has received a two year suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to corruption, theft and deception charges in order to feed a gambling habit that cost him his job and his marriage.

John O’Halloran (47), who was based at Barrack Street Garda station in Cork city but has since resigned, had pleaded guilty to 11 sample charges when he was arraigned at Cork Circuit Criminal Court last November.

On Tuesday, Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin described as “scandalous” O’Halloran’s behaviour in using garda-headed notepaper and a garda stamp to forge invoices. These were used to obtain money from a residents association and UCC Students Union for extra policing that was already being provided.

“The amounts of money were not large but the criminality is total. The amount of money pales into insignificance when I view what he did with his entitlement as a guard, the manner in which he went around misusing his position is scandalous,” said Judge Ó Donnabháin.

“There was a criminal breach of trust and total denial of his duty as a guard to be trustworthy and for the public to be able to rely on him.”

Judge Ó Donnabháin said that there were a number of mitigating factors in O’Halloran’s favour including his guilty plea, which spared hundreds of witnesses giving evidence in what would have been a four-week trial.

“I must go further and look at his personal circumstances. He has lost his job. A gratuity of €80,000 will be denied him. Undoubtedly, he has drawn this on himself. He is now a person who will never again work as a guard,” he said.

“He was in the throes of a substantial gambling addiction. There is no more insidious and harmful addiction than gambling. It is silent and the damage it does is enormous. He gambled €150,000 between 2009 and 2014 and is reckoned to have lost €84,000 to €85,000.”

Insp Fergal Foley said that the matter came to light after a woman made a complaint that O’Halloran had failed to repay her a €5,500 loan. When gardaí delved further, they discovered O’Halloran had also obtained money from Connaught Avenue Residents Association and UCC Students Union.

He obtained €1,350 from CARA of which his wife repaid €600 while he obtained a total of €7,379 from UCC Students Union which has never been repaid.

He also set up bank accounts in the names Neighbourhood Watch and Campus Watch without the knowledge or permission of the garda authorities.

O’Halloran also admitted selling tickets which had been reserved for companies which had sponsored the charity event, Summer Evening in the Quad and for Old Folks Parties in 2013, 2014 and 2015 which he never held, resulting in him pocketing €7,670 which has never been repaid.