Garda harassed female colleague with Valentine's card, emails and friend request

CourtsBy Sunday World
Garda harassed female colleague with Valentine's card, emails and friend request

A garda harassed a female sergeant by sending her a Valentine's card, emails and a friend request on Facebook despite numerous warnings from his superiors not to have any contact with her.

Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, told a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that the fact Garda Donal Maguire harassed the woman is not disputed but rather the jurors have to determine if he was suffering from a mental disorder at the time.

Gda Maguire (40) of Rock Road, Bundoran, Co Donegal has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to two counts of harassing the woman at a location in Dublin on dates between February 18 and March 11, 2012 and between August 1, 2012 and February 4, 2013.

Detective Superintendent Walter O'Sullivan outlined the facts of the harassment to the jury.

He said that Gda Maguire first met the sergeant at the Dublin garda station he was working from in 2011. She believed there was nothing personal in their interaction.

He sent the woman a Valentine's card in February 2012 and she spoke with him privately and told him that his attention to her was inappropriate, unwanted and unwelcome.

She believed that this would be the end of the matter but Gda Maguire continued to contact her through email via the garda pulse system.

She reported the emails to superior colleagues and Gda Maguire was disciplined and told not to contact her again.

The emails continued which resulted in his access to the pulse system being revoked.

Gda Maguire then turned up at the garda station where she worked and specifically asked for her. He was again cautioned not to contact the woman.

Three weeks later he turned up at a garda 10km race she was running in and was noticed by other colleagues to be staring at her.

Again his superiors met with him and he gave an oral undertaking not to have any further contact with the woman.

Two weeks later she received a friend request from him on Facebook.

This was the final contact before the seriousness of the harassment was escalated and investigated as a criminal offence.

The court heard that the harassment impacted on the woman's work and family life and caused her great stress.

She felt physically sick, annoyed and concerned on receiving the communications from Gda Maguire.

She was granted annual leave following the Facebook contact from Gda Maguire because her superiors believed she was not in "a fit position to do her work".

Det Super Walter O'Sullivan agreed with Ronan Kennedy BL, defending, that when Gda Maguire was interviewed in June 2013, he said he was infatuated with the woman and this was not reciprocated.

He accepted that he had been warned to stop communicating with the sergeant but had continued contact despite this.

Det Sup O'Sullivan agreed with Mr Kennedy that Gda Maguire had difficulty understanding what he had been doing was wrong and that he had been causing the woman stress.

He accepted that, following the interview, both he and his colleagues had concerns for Gda Maguire's wellbeing.

Ms Small told the jury in opening the trial that the defence agree that the accused harassed the woman.

She told the jury it will hear from consultant psychiatrist Dr Brenda Wright tomorrow morning, who will testify that in her view Gda Maguire, "didn't know what he was doing was wrong, was unable to appreciate the significance and wrongness of the act and that he was unable to refrain from doing his actions."

The trial continues tomorrow before Judge Elma Sheahan and jury of three women and nine men.

Sonya McLean