The family of a woman murdered by a violent thug when he was on bail, awaiting trial for previous offenses, is suing the Irish State for €4 million.
Lorcan Roche Kelly has claimed his wife Sylvia’s killer “was free to commit the crime of murder when he should have been in custody.”
The High Court has set aside May 26 for consideration of a state application to have the case struck out. Garda (police) Commissioner Martin Callinan and Justice Minister Alan Shatter are also seeking to have the damages claim struck out of court on the grounds that it shows no reasonable cause of action.
The case is the latest in a series of events which have placed Callinan and Shatter at the center of controversy over the treatment of Garda whistle-blowers who have exposed a number of crimes which weren’t properly investigated.
There have been opposition calls for Shatter’s resignation and for apologies by him to whistleblowers, serving Sergeant Maurice McCabe and retired Garda John Wilson.
A swift-moving series of accusations and counter-accusations in the crisis resulted in Shatter firing a go-between, the Garda Confidential Recipient Oliver Connolly. He was sacked last week from his part-time duties over comments he is alleged to have made to McCabe.
Connolly is alleged to have told McCabe, “I’ll tell you something, Maurice, and this is just personal advice to you, if Shatter thinks you’re screwing him you’re finished.”
The office of the Confidential Recipient is designed to offer officers or civilian members of the force with concerns a route to alert an intermediary without concerns their identity would be revealed.
According to The Irish Times, McCabe has reported more than 20 cases of neglect of duty in the Garda force.
McCabe has alleged Garda corruption in the administration of the penalty points system in which erring motorists pick up penalty points which could lead to driving bans when they add up.
Even more strikingly, McCabe has alleged in documents provided to politicians and passed to Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny why Sylvia Roche Kelly’s killer Jerry McGrath was free to murder.
The dossier shows that McGrath viciously assaulted taxi driver Mary Lynch in April 2007 in Co. Cavan. He was released on bail but six months later he was charged with assault causing harm to a five-year-old girl, burglary and false imprisonment in Co. Tipperary. Although held for a while in custody on those charges he eventually received bail again.
In December 2007 he met separated mother-of-two Sylvia Roche Kelly in Limerick and murdered her in a hotel room. He has since been sentenced to life.
The dossier also shows that at one stage McCabe, based in Co. Cavan, was scapegoated by colleagues who allegedly put the blame on him for releasing McGrath from custody after his first attack on Mary Lynch.
But Lynch told the Sunday Independent she knows McGrath wasn’t released by McCabe, but by somebody else in the Garda force.
Meanwhile, McCabe has rejected suggestions that he refused a direction from the Garda commissioner to take part in an inquiry into penalty points allegations he had raised.
McCabe this week issued a statement insisting he was never invited to participate in the inquiry. He accused the Garda force of making “gravely misleading and false” claims.
In a separate development, the government decided on Tuesday to set up a new inquiry into allegations of Garda mismanagement of serious cases, some involving murder, abduction and assault.
A barrister is to be appointed by the Cabinet to examine the dossier of allegations from whistleblower McCabe. This is in addition to a decision last week that a retired High Court judge will investigate claims that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) offices were bugged.
Fianna Fail described the decision to appoint a barrister as disappointing and an “unbelievably weak response.”
On his way into Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin said the government planned to introduce “world-class” legislation that would provide protection to those who wanted to expose wrong-doing.