Inquiry ‘not ruled out’ into killing of cyclist by man on bail
Minister says however that GSOC must conclude second inquiry before decision
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan acknowledged there had been a catalogue of failures including the failure to act to implement the sanctions for breach of bail. File photograph: Cyril Byrne
The Government has not ruled out a commission of investigation into the circumstances leading up to the death of a cyclist in 2011, knocked down by a motorist who was on bail at the time, and in breach of his bail conditions.
Shane O’Farrell was killed by Zigimantas Gradzuiska, who had 42 previous convictions and who would have been in prison at the time of the incident, had his breaches of previous suspended sentences been acted on by gardaí.
Mr Gradzuiska had convictions for fraud, theft, possession of heroin and traffic offences, and Mr O’ Farrell’s parents, Lucia and James O’Farrell, and his four sisters have campaigned for an inquiry into the failures of gardaí and the criminal justice system.
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said he was “open-minded about the prospect of a further inquiry” once the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) completed a further investigation into disciplinary matters.
This is investigating failures to check car tax and “alleged failure to bring bail conditions to the attention of the court or to reactivate a suspended sentence when the person was charged with subsequent offences prior to the date of the collision”.
But he refused an inquiry into the case until the completion of the second GSOC investigation. The first inquiry, which took six years, has been condemned as a failure by Opposition TDs.
Catalogue of failures
The Minister acknowledged that there had been a catalogue of failures including the failure to act to implement the sanctions for breach of bail.
But Mr Flanagan described the GSOC inquiry as thorough and it looked at more than 50 separate allegations involving many people. He sharply criticised the Opposition for castigating the report.
However Sinn Féin justice spokesman Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said there were serious deficiencies with the GSOC report, which he described as a “bad piece of work”, where at every stage “the word of the gardaí is taken as a given”.
Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan introduced the Private Member’s motion and called for the inquiry into the circumstances preceding and after his death.
One of the central issues to merit an investigation, he said, was that seven months prior to Mr O’Farrell’s death on August 2nd, 2011, the driver had been convicted in Monaghan of theft. “As a result of that conviction the judge adjourned the case for a year to determine whether a custodial sentence” was appropriate.
He said that if the defendant was convicted of any further fraud or theft he would be put in jail. Mr O’Callaghan said on May 9th, 2011, he was convicted of a theft offence in Ardee but “inexplicably” he was not brought before the court in Monaghan.
Fianna Fáil Cavan-Monaghan TD Niamh Smyth said: “Light has been shone on the shocking dysfunctionality of our criminal justice system.”
A vote on the debate will take place on Thursday.