A man has been given a suspended jail term after he admitted making a false report to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) about being assaulted by gardaí in Cork.
James O’Leary (57) from Skiddy’s Home, Pouladuff Road, pleaded guilty at Cork District Court to making a statement to Gsoc in relation to a complaint or investigation knowing it to be false or misleading contrary to Section 110 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
Noreen Lambert, a Gsoc designated officer, told the court that O'Leary had made a formal complaint on February 27th, 2016 which was referred to Gsoc.
Later in a written statement he alleged that as he left the Bridewell Garda station in Cork after being released from custody “without warning two gardaí caught me at each side and threw me out the door at the front of the station onto the steps outside.”
He said he attended Cork University Hospital on February 27th, 2016 where he was found to have soft tissue injury to his chest. His local GP later noted that O’Leary complained of continuing pain in his ribs since the incident.
Ms Lambert said Gsoc obtained CCTV footage from the custody area, the entrance/exit hall and the external area outside the Bridewell at the time of O’Leary’s release and the footage refuted his allegation. It showed him taking his property, going to the exit hall and a garda holding the door open for him as he left and another advising him to mind his step on leaving.
The footage showed no interaction between O’Leary and any garda outside the Bridewell Station, said Ms Lambert. The footage was later shown to O’Leary by Gsoc when they interviewed him and explained he was being investigated for making a false statement.
He again confirmed his complaint after caution and added: “I remember walking out but the part where they pushed me is missing. How convenient that part is missing. I am sticking to my story.”
Defence solicitor, Michael Quinlan said that O'Leary was still sticking to his story initially as he did have an injury even though he could not explain how he suffered it. He now accepted that it did not happen at the garda station.
O’Leary made the complaint in good faith and it was not made maliciously, said Mr Quinlan. He asked the court to be as lenient as possible given that O’Leary had no previous convictions, was in poor health after suffering three strokes and had lost his wife and home after a divorce.
Judge Aingeal Ni Chonduin said O'Leary had made "shocking irresponsible allegations" and while he he may have problems including with alcohol, "making trouble for others" was not the solution.
She imposed a four month term suspended for 12 months.