suspended | 

Louth garda submitted false statement to ‘paper over her shortcomings’, court told

Julie McColgan (32) was serving as a probationary officer in Drogheda at the time

Drogheda Independent

A garda submitted a false statement ‘to paper over her shortcomings’ in the investigation of a crime, the district court has been told.

Julie McColgan (32) who was serving as a probationary officer in Drogheda at the time did not gain from what she did, it was accepted.

She has been suspended from the force and a separate parallel disciplinary procedure is taking place.

The defendant, of Bunn, Culkenny, Malin, Co. Donegal, pleaded guilty to a single charge that on a date unknown between 7 November 2019 and 22 November 2020 at Drogheda Garda Station she did make a false instrument to wit sign a statement knowing it to be false and purporting it to be that of Mr Eamon McGuigan and that subsequently, on 22 November 2020 she did commit this statement as part of an investigation file to Sgt Michael Parry Jones making him believe that this was a true statement of complaint made by Mr Eamon McGuigan with the intention that it be used to induce another person to accept it as genuine and by reason of so accepting the said instrument to do some act to the prejudice of that person or any other person.

Evidence was given that on 7 November 2019 Mr McGuigan withdrew €450 from an ATM in Drogheda and left without taking the money from the machine.

It transpired the cash had been removed by the next customer.

He went to the garda station to make a complaint and was dealt with by Ms McColgan at the public counter.

Superintendent Michelle Baker who investigated the matter said that Mr McGuigan was led to believe by the defendant that there were difficulties obtaining CCTV footage and that the investigation was not progressing satisfactorily which was at variance with what he understood from the bank.

Ms McColgan submitted a file to her supervising officer that no CCTV was available and a statement purporting to be from Eamon McGuigan. It was not his signature on that statement.

Supt Baker continued she twice interviewed the defendant by arrangement. She declined to comment when it was suggested she forged the signature and she complained of pressure and a lack of support from her superiors.

The superintendent added what Ms Colgan did was ‘a way of papering over her shortcomings’. The victim was constantly contacting her and it ‘forced her to do something’.

Judge McKiernan heard that when the original crime was reinvestigated the money was recovered and returned to Mr McGuigan.

CCTV was available and led to the successful identification of the culprit who was dealt with by way of adult caution.

Cross-examined by barrister David Staunton, Supt Baker said Julie McColgan was a reasonably inexperienced garda and had been on probation for about nine months at the time.

Regarding this matter, some of her record-keeping was not accurate. She didn’t investigate the case properly.

Mr Staunton said his client made a foolish decision. It was an attempt to cover up a failing in the workplace and because she was a garda it was serious.

It constituted ignominy for the defendant and a ‘fall from grace’.

Counsel added his client was previously a garda reserve and got accepted to the Gardaí, passing out in 2019.

In 2018 she suffered the recurrence of a medical issue and underwent surgery for a cancerous tumour of the brain in July 2021 which had a significant impact on her.

Judge McKiernan remarked it was a ‘very unusual case’.

She put it back to 13 February next for a probation report and finalisation.

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