herald

Friday 9 December 2016

'Garda and bullet sender made contact 291 times', court hears

Detective Gda David O’Brien
Detective Gda David O’Brien

Nearly 300 phone calls and texts were exchanged between a detective garda and a woman who posted a package containing a bullet, underwear and a Valentine’s card to one of his colleagues, it has been alleged.

According to prosecutors, two mobile phones that they say are linked to Detective Garda David O’Brien and the sender of the package were in contact with each other in an eight-week period at the time the package was sent.

Dublin District Court was told that some 291 communications passed between the phones between February 1, 2011 and March 26, 2011.

Some 187 calls and texts were allegedly sent from Det Gda O’Brien’s phone, with 104

returned from the other phone.

Detective Sergeant Michael Buckley received the package at his workplace at the “cold case” Serious Crime Review Team at the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, in Harcourt Square, on February 21, 2011.

In a statement to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) Det Gda O’Brien, who worked under him, denied any involvement and said he had not spoken to the woman who allegedly sent the envelope in 15 to 20 years.

Threat

The GSOC complaint was made by Det Sgt Buckley’s wife Briege, who claimed her husband was being bullied, and intimidated, and she felt the bullet was a threat to her and her two sons.

Mr O’Brien has pleaded not guilty to giving false or misleading information to GSOC on September 10, 2012.

Judge Bryan Smyth ruled yesterday that Meteor and Vodafone records obtained by GSOC investigators were admissible in evidence. Defence barrister Kathleen Leader, BL, had objected to the records on several legal grounds.

The court heard officers from the commission requested mobile phone records for two phones that the prosecution maintains are attributable to the accused and the sender of the envelope.

Ms Leader said the phone records would “make or break” the investigation, and the only reason they were sought was to establish whether Mr O’Brien was lying.

She argued the law did not allow for their use in prosecuting the summary offence of making a false statement.

Tony McGillicuddy, BL, for the prosecution, said the  telecom request was in relation to serious potential offences –  unlawful possesion of a bullet and harassment.

He said the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011 did not prevent the records being used to prosecute the false statement charge.

The trial continues.

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