Claims of mistreatment at interview denied by garda

Joan Gallager is the only Garda left who has stuck to her original story in relation to the questioning of Katrina Brolly.

Garda Joan Gallagher denied there was mistreatment of Katrina Brolly during an interview at Letterkenny Garda station in 1996 in connection with the death of cattle-dealer Richie Barron.

She denied she pulled Ms Brolly’s hair, that there was abusive language by gardaa­ or that post-mortem photographs of Mr Barron had been shown. These allegations were made by Ms Brolly and by Det Garda John Dooley in a dramatic change to his earlier statement denying all claims.

Det Garda Dooley is on sick leave and is recovering from a severe bout of depression.

Det Sgt John White also issued a statement last week changing his evidence and admitting his part in mistreating the suspects. He could not remember a hair-pulling incident, but had no reason to doubt Det Garda Dooley. He could not identify at which interview the photos were shown.

Garda Gallagher said she was in at the second of three interviews with Ms Brolly. She said the events alleged did not take place. Det Garda Dooley was a friend of hers. She had known him for 13 years and he was an upright and honest man.

“I believe John Dooley believes what he is saying and doesn’t believe he is telling lies, but it didn’t happen. I believe John Dooley believes 100 per cent what he’s saying, it’s not out of malice or out to get anybody,” she said.

Tribunal counsel Anthony Barr SC asked about Det Garda Dooley’s statement that he held up postmortem photographs to Ms Brolly. Garda Gallagher said it did not happen.

Mr Barr asked why three people – Ms Brolly, Det Garda Dooley and Det Sgt White – all said it happened. Garda Gallagher replied: “I have no idea.”

She agreed there was probably bad language as it happened every day. Another claim that lights were switched on and off were also denied by Garda Gallagher. She also did not recall any remarks about Ms Brolly being told her children would be taken away from her.

“What I said was the truth,” she said. “While I was there, there was no mistreatment.”

The tribunal chairman, Mr Justice Frederick Morris, asked: “Why do you think Det Garda Dooley is imagining all this?” Garda Gallagher replied that she did not know.

She was not suggesting that his recent illness had anything to do with it, but maybe it did.

The chairman asked if she had any theory of her own.

“My honest feeling is it happened at another interview as I know it didn’t happen in the one I was in,” she said.