herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Garda quizzed about Sargent is released

PROBE: Young woman officer walks free without charge

A YOUNG woman garda questioned about the Trevor Sargent Scandal has been released without charge.

The officer was detained after presenting herself to Lucan station yesterday for questioning in the case.

The force said today that the officer, in her 30s, was released without charge at Lucan Garda Station at 11.30pm last night.

"The woman being detained at Lucan Garda Station under Section 4 of Criminal Justice Act has been released without charge," a garda statement said today.

"A file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions," it added.

She was arrested at Lucan Garda Station at 10.20am yesterday morning for questioning about how correspondence from the former Green Party leader to the gardai appeared in the Herald.

The Green TD quit as minister of State for food and horticulture last month within hours of the Herald publishing details of letters he had written to gardai about a constituent who was facing criminal proceedings.

Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy ordered an investigation into how the letters had got into the public domain.

The woman garda was detained yesterday morning after she arrived at the garda station by appointment.

She was initially arrested under the terms of the Criminal Justice Act and had her detention extended by a further six hours yesterday afternoon.

In one of the letters to gardai, Mr Sargent said it would be "wholly inappropriate" to prosecute the constituent, Dominic McGowan, who was attacked near his home at the Cardy Rock estate in Balbriggan in September, 2007.



Convicted

Mr McGowan was subsequently convicted and fined for a public order offence. The man convicted of assaulting him is currently appealing that conviction.

When the correspondence came to light in the Herald, Mr Sargent tendered his resignation as minister, accepting he had made an "error of judgment".

Mr Sargent has declined to comment on the arrest. However, he said had been co-operating with the garda investigation. "I have no knowledge of how the investigation is progressing, apart from the fact that I have co-operated with it," he said last night.

"I have made statements to the investigation as, I imagine, has everyone involved."

Gardai said the officer was questioned about the public disclosure of correspondence addressed to Balbriggan Garda Station.

Mr Murphy appointed two senior officers, Chief Supt Michael Finn and Det Supt John McMahon, to investigate the matter. After Mr Sargent's resignation, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern denied any involvement in the leaking of the papers.

mlavery@herald.ie

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