Garda who pursued N7 burglary gang advised on safety amid fears he’ll be criminal target
Concern that associates of dead men could ‘go looking for’ officer
A garda facing charges over a car pursuit in which a notorious gang of burglars died will get official advice on personal safety amid fears he will be targeted by the criminals’ accomplices.
The garda has applied for a transfer and there is also talk of him having to move house soon for his own protection.
He faces prosecution over his driving in the incident in which three criminals with 200 convictions between them were killed while driving the wrong way down the N7 dual-carriageway in Dublin.
The garda will be named and his address made public if he is charged over his driving. He could face up to seven years in prison if prosecuted for endangerment. The exact charges he will face are still not clear.
The prosecution of the garda was described as “outrageous” in the Dáil and €35,500 has already been donated to a fund for his legal costs. The garda’s defence is expected to be that he was obliged to follow the criminals to alert the public to the danger. The gang had their headlights turned off as they drove against the traffic on a busy road.
The deaths of criminals Graham Taylor (31), Karl Freeman (26) and Dean Maguire (29) made international headlines after the car they were travelling in collided head-on with a lorry as it travelled the wrong way down the N7 near Rathcoole on the night of July 7, 2021.
The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) confirmed last week that the officer, who was involved in a pursuit, will now face charges arising from his driving on the night.
The possible charges include dangerous driving, right up to endangerment, which carries a prison sentence of up to seven years.
Endangerment involves a person intentionally or recklessly engaging in conduct which creates a substantial risk of death or serious harm to another. The decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions to charge him has caused surprise within the force.
“Trying to link it that the guard’s driving was the cause for the accident is a big stretch,” a Garda source told the Irish Independent.
The garda was properly trained to drive in pursuit of suspects, known as a “tactical resolution to stop a vehicle”, and therefore was authorised to breach road traffic laws where necessary and safe to do so.
The charging of the officer has sent shockwaves throughout the Gardaí, from rank-and-file members up to senior management.
The garda was not disciplined on foot of his actions and the dead men were suspects in a number of burglaries in the Dublin and Leinster area.
“There is a lot of disquiet about it, from the way it was announced and the lack of empathy. Nobody in the entire organisation was aware charges were coming. Nobody expected it,” a source said.
The garda remains on normal active duty at Tallaght garda station, where he is based, but has put in for a transfer for personal reasons as he wants to move out of Dublin. The transfer request is not being linked to the N7 incident.
But there are significant concerns for his safety and that he will be targeted by associates of the criminal gang. Once he is charged, his name and home address will be made public.
The garda will be given official advice on his personal safety. Garda sources say this is normal for officers involved in investigations where there is a possibility of recriminations. And there is already talk among colleagues that he will have to move house.
“There would be a concern they’ll go looking for him. There is a risk to his safety. Nobody is looking for immunity from prosecution in all cases, but it’s quite obvious what that guard was doing here – and yet here we are,” a garda familiar with the case said.
The Garda Press Office said: “An Garda Síochána does not comment on the security of any individual.”
Labour Party TD Alan Kelly branded the decision to prosecute as “outrageous” in the Dáil this week.
“It is not acceptable behaviour. The Government have to lead on this to show the people of Ireland that members of An Garda Síochána who are doing their duty will be respected and will not be treated this way,” he said.
Justice Minister Simon Harris’s office said: “It would be inappropriate for the minister to comment on any individual case or investigation. Prosecution decisions are a matter for the DPP, which is independent in its functions.”
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