A GARDA has been arrested on suspicion of stealing cash from an elderly woman after arriving at her home on a 999 call. The male officer is in his 20s and stationed in Dublin’s north inner city.
He is also being investigated for fraudulently using a superior’s credit card to pay for a Christmas party – after pocketing party cash handed over by his colleagues.
The garda was released from custody last night at Kevin Street garda station, following his arrest in the city yesterday. He has been suspended from duty and is now likely to face criminal charges.
The officer and his partner are believed to have debts of up to €500,000, relating to loans taken out from financial institutions. The man has also been questioned about attempting to obtain loans under false pretences.
Suspicions were raised about the man after a complaint was made that cash had been taken from the home of a frail and elderly woman, after she called gardai following a recent break-in at her house.
The Herald understands that the woman told the garda who arrived at the scene that no cash had been taken, and pointed out a drawer at house where she was had €2,500 for safe-keeping.
The garda later made a follow-up call to the house after which the woman checked the drawer. At this point the container was reportedly empty and it is suspected the garda stole the cash.
Detectives began an investigation into the cash theft and then received a number of reports from the garda's own colleagues about the alleged theft of a cash fund for the station's Christmas party.
It is understood the garda had collected funds of €70 a head from colleagues for the party. On the day of the party he did not attend the event and gave his colleagues a credit card number to pay for food and drink at the bash.
But when the amount was charged to the card it was discovered that the plastic belonged to a sergeant based at the man's station who had no knowledge that his card number had been used. The cash collected by the garda has not been recovered.
A third element of the investigation relates to the man's dealings with a credit union, and the manner in which the officer and his wife obtained loans from the institution.
It is alleged that the man may have attempted to falsely obtain a loan.
The garda in question, who has less than five years' service, is understood to be in considerable personal debt relating to loans he has obtained in the past.
A file is being prepared for the DPP following the garda's release from custody yesterday.
A source told the Herald: "This matter is being treated with the utmost seriousness, in particular the allegation that cash was taken from an elderly woman. If this is proven to be the case the man can expect to be dealt with most severely.
"The man's colleagues are shocked at the allegations. Gardai in the north inner city have a very good relationship with the elderly in the community and it's of paramount importance that this maintained."
The source added: "As soon as the allegation was known the man's superiors immediately suspended him."
Earlier this year the Garda Representative Association warned that financial pressures on gardai could leave them vulnerable to corruption.