'Broke' garda cleared in tax disc theft case
A CASH-strapped garda who took a motor tax disc from his superior's office and put it on his own private car has been cleared of theft after a judge "reconsidered" the case.
Garda Damien Dempsey (44) had initially been found guilty of stealing the disc but Judge Hugh O'Donnell dismissed the charge when the case came back before Dublin District Court.
But he fined Garda Dempsey €500 for a lesser offence – having no valid tax on his Lexus.
Following legal submissions by the defence, Judge O'Donnell said he was dismissing the theft charge because it had not been proven that Garda Dempsey "intended to permanently deprive the owner" of the disc.
He also dismissed charges of fraudulent use of the disc and using a vehicle without insurance. The judge had previously found him guilty on all counts but reviewed the case after hearing that the accused faced separate disciplinary action within the force.
The judge had criticised the Garda authorities, describing this as "double jeopardy". Garda Dempsey had denied all the charges he was accused of, except not having valid tax.
His car had been parked outside the community police sergeant's office in Tallaght at the time of the alleged offences on dates between July 12, 2012 and April 23, 2013.
Defence Barrister Miceal O'Connor asked the judge to dismiss the offences in view of what had happened and how Garda Dempsey had suffered.
"In all probability he is going to lose his job," counsel said.
The judge said he would not comment further on the case and imposed the fine and convictions for having no valid tax disc and not displaying one.