herald

Saturday 23 September 2017

Posters branded family as drug dealers, garda harassment trial told

Eve Doherty
Eve Doherty

The neighbours of a woman allegedly harassed by a garda have told a jury about posters found around their estate accusing her of corruption and branding them drug dealers.

Eve Doherty (49), a garda based in Dublin, denies harassing Elizabeth Howlin between September 2011 and March 2013 and making false statements claiming Ms Howlin was perverting the course of justice.

At the time, Ms Howlin worked as a directing officer with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

She told the jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that she was involved in deciding whether or not to direct prosecutions in criminal cases.

Useless

Ms Howlin said that, over an 18-month period, abusive letters and emails were sent to her home, her workplace and her GP, calling her a "corrupt bitch" and an "incompetent, useless hobbit".

The material made claims that Ms Howlin, who is a distant cousin of TD Brendan Howlin, was a political appointee and would "pull" files to prevent the prosecution of anyone conn- ected to her or the Govern- ment.

Ms Howlin said all the allegations were untrue, but the material contained personal details that were true.

She said the material was very upsetting and affected her confidence and peace of mind.

Michael O'Higgins, defending Ms Doherty, told Ms Howlin he was not going to suggest "for one moment" that any of the allegations were true.

He said his client denied being the author of any of the material.

He put it to Ms Howlin that there were people connected with cases dealt with by the DPP who have made claims that "the system was rigged".

Ms Howlin told Kerida Naidoo, prosecuting, that she had "no idea" how anyone who had been prosecuted by the DPP and might be "disgruntled or unhappy" would know the personal details included in the emails.

She agreed that, last September, a man phoned her making "wild accusations". She said the allegations were "very similar" to some of those in the emails.

She reported the call to gardai and they checked it out and told her the caller was a previously accused person.

She said gardai told her not to be concerned because the man was not a violent person and was not dangerous.

In March 2012, a resident of the estate in Blackrock, Co Dublin, where Ms Howlin lives, found A4-sized posters around the estate that had photos of Ms Howlin and Brendan Howlin on them.

The poster contained allegations about Ms Howlin's neighbours, the Martins, describing them as drug dealers and claiming they were best friends with Ms Howlin.

The poster further claimed that Ms Howlin had used inappropriate influence to protect the family from prosecution.

Pat Martin told the trial that his family were not drug dealers. He said his son was charged previously with a minor offence of possession of cannabis and was prosecuted for the offence.

Traumatised

He said Ms Howlin had no involvement with his son's case and said his family were "absolutely traumatised" after gardai came to the family home with a search warrant.

He said he knew Ms Howlin worked for the DPP and his wife called to ask her for the number of a solicitor. He said they did not ask Ms Howlin for any advice.

Mr Martin said allegations that there was a large seizure of drugs at his home were absolutely untrue.

Patricia Martin said her son pleaded guilty to the offence. She agreed with Mr O'Higgins that the case was struck out and no conviction was recorded.

A number of Ms Howlin's neighbours gave evidence of finding A4 posters alleging that Ms Howlin was "turning a blind eye to drug dealing".

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