herald

Saturday 21 July 2018

'I was full of fear', says Amy over nightmare TV licence jail error

Amy Daly was falsely accused
Amy Daly was falsely accused

An innocent young mother who was sent to Mountjoy Prison in a case of mistaken identity has said her ordeal will stay with her for ever and she hopes it never happens to anyone else.

Amy Daly (27) was wrongly detained on January 9, 2015, after gardai went to her home in Tullamore, Co Offaly, with a warrant for the arrest of someone with a similar name over an unpaid TV licence who had failed to show up for a court appearance.

Ms Daly, who is a law student, was arrested, detained at Tullamore Garda Station for six hours and then taken to Mountjoy Prison in a caged van.

She said the ordeal changed her life.

"I had just picked up my son Jayden from playschool and I was at home making him a sandwich," she said.

"There was a knock on the door and there were two guards there from Tullamore Garda Station. They asked if my name is Amy, but they never asked for my second name.

"They said I was due in court the day before and had never shown up and that there was a warrant for my arrest."

She explained to the officers that she had been collecting stamps for her TV licence and the TV inspector had only called to her door the day before and said everything was above board.

She repeatedly asked to see the arrest warrant, but they said she would have to come to the garda station to look at it.

Distraught

"At the station, they didn't believe me, they took my belongings off me before I was placed in a cell," she said.

Ms Daly said gardai again refused to allow her to see the warrant, and she was kept in the cell for about six hours.

"I was full of fear, I was completely distraught," she said.

"When I was being taken out of the cell, I thought, 'Thank God, I get to go home', but that was when they said I was being transferred to Mountjoy."

She asked again to see the warrant, but was refused.

"On the way to Mountjoy I was having panic attacks, I was feeling nauseous and sick," she said.

When they arrived at the prison, Ms Daly was processed and placed in a holding cell.

It was only when names were being called out one by one that officers realised it was a case of mistaken identity.

When she told them that wasn't her name, they accused her of being dishonest and threatened to detain her for longer.

"I said nobody was listening to me and they had the wrong person," she added.

Ms Daly was only freed from Mountjoy at 10.45pm.

She sued the State for false imprisonment, breach of her constitutional right to liberty, negligence and breach of duty and settled the case out of court.

A spokesman for An Garda Siochana said: "We do not comment on named individuals."

The Department of Justice and the Irish Prison Service also declined to comment.

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