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Garda who harassed married female sergeant found not guilty by reason of insanity

Donal Maguire
Donal Maguire

A garda who harassed a married female sergeant by sending her a Valentine's Card, numerous emails and a friend request on Facebook has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Garda Donal Maguire (40), a married man with two children, had been warned by his superiors not to have any contact with the woman and was advised there would be consequences if he continued the behaviour.

He had sent the emails via the garda Pulse system leading to him having his access revoked. He continued to try and contact the woman , despite giving an oral undertaking to stop his behaviour and was ultimately transferred to another garda station.

Dublin Circuit Criminal 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”.

Gda Maguire (40) of Bundoran, Co. Donegal had pleaded not (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

Today/yesterday (THURS) two forensic psychiatrists told the trial that Gda Maguire was suffering from a mental disorder at the time and lacked the ability to form intent, as set out under the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006.

The jury heard that Gda Maguire had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, which at his age was considered early onset dementia. The symptoms include erotomania, a delusion in which a person believes that another person, typically of a higher social status, is in love with them.

The disorder also meant that Gda Maguire was increasingly inappropriate in his actions, had a loss of empathy, was unable to understand the impact of his behaviour, has a lack of judgment and an inability to inhibit his own actions as well as a lack of interest in his personal hygiene.

The jury of nine men and three women returned its verdict following an hour of deliberations. Judge Elma Sheahan thanked the jurors for their concentration during what she was an “unusual” trial.

She said the court found that Gda Maguire was suffering from a mental disorder and committed him to the Central Mental Hospital (CMH). She ordered that the CMH provide the court with a report for June 27, next so that “the appropriate steps can be taken”.

Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, told the jury in opening the case that the fact Gda Maguire harassed the woman was not disputed but rather the jurors had to determine if he was suffering from a mental disorder at the time.

The court heard that both Gda Maguire's mother and his wife noticed a change in his behaviour from 2010, shortly after the birth of his first child, when he started making bizarre statements and laughing inappropriately.

In his first referral to have it investigated, a psychiatrist noted that Gda Maguire had disorganised thinking and unusual speech.

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

He 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 Supt 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 well-being.

ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE OF HARASSMENT AND PYSCHIATRIC EVIDENCE

Det Supt O’Sullivan said 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 seriousness of the harassment was escalated and investigated as a criminal offence.

Both Doctor Brenda Wright, an expert witness for the State and Doctor Conor O'Neill, an expert witness for the defence, met with Gda Maguire at various stages over the last few years.

Having considered the book of evidence, various psychologist and medical tests and after speaking to his family they concluded that he had frontotemporal dementia from approximately 2010.

Both psychiatrists also said that they were satisfied that at the time of the offence Gda Maguire didn't appreciate what he was doing was wrong and he was unable to refrain from committing the act.

Both witnesses drew the jury's attention to the fact that Gda Maguire continued to harass the woman despite being told by her that it was unwanted and unwelcome and being directly warned by his superiors that there would be real consequences should he continue the behaviour.

Dr O'Neill said the fact that Gda Maguire persisted in “a very obvious way” and in a manner that would lead to him being easily detected was consistent with his diagnosis.

He said Gda Maguire was currently being treated in the Central Mental Hospital and there were no immediate plans to discharge him as he was suffering from a significant illness.