Garda abused his power, court finds

It is drilled into us that the vast, vast majority of Gardai are good policemen. But what protections do we have against the bad ones? This is a clear case of a Garda acting unlawfully, but it appears no criminal action was taken against him. There is no mention of a reprimand or sanction on the Garda either. What is curious is that after being challenged for parking illegally, he forced the hostel manager to wash the sticker off, and called in backup. What on earth is going on?

Given that he was found guilty twice by the Garda complaints Board of abusing his position, why is he allowed to continue work as a Garda?

A hostel manager in Cork has been awarded €20,000 in damages after a judge ruled that she had been falsely imprisoned and unlawfully arrested by an off-duty garda after she placed a private-parking sticker on the garda’s car.

Angela Freyne (60) took a civil court action against Garda Norbert Eames concerning an incident which occurred five years ago.

Ms Freyne, manager of a hostel on Kyril’s Quay in Cork, told Cork Circuit Civil Court that on April 13th, 2001, she noticed a car she did not recognise being parked in one of the spaces outside the premises.

She said that when she walked out to place a private-parking sticker on the car, she was confronted by Garda Eames who identified himself as an off-duty garda.

Ms Freyne claimed he arrested her for malicious damage to his car because she had placed a sticker on the rear windscreen. She became frightened when Garda Eames called the local Garda station requesting additional officers come to the scene.

Ms Freyne said she was later made to wash the sticker off the car despite her emphasising that she was the manager of the hostel and it was the owners’ policy to place stickers on cars left in the area without permission.

Garda Eames insisted that he only left his car in the private parking space that day because he was monitoring the suspicious behaviour of a criminal he recognised. He denied trying to intimidate the plaintiff.

He said he repeatedly tried to reason with Ms Freyne but she kept saying: “You are intimidating me.”

Pierce Sreenan BL, for Ms Freyne, said the arrest of his client was legally unsound and based on a trivial incident.

Judge Patrick J Moran said that Garda Eames’s actions were a clear abuse of his powers. He found that the garda’s actions were within the scope of his employment making the State liable for damages in the action.

However, he ruled that Garda Eames should pay his own legal costs because his personal actions led to the case.

Garda Eames was previously found guilty on two counts of abusing his position by the Garda Siochana Complaints Tribunal.

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