Thursday 14 December 2017

'Real change' needed to stop garda chase deaths, says son of crash victim

Crash victim Mary Seavers
Crash victim Mary Seavers

A man whose mother was killed by an out-of-control garda car has said fatal incidents are likely to continue due to the lack of action following coroners' recommendations.

David Seavers was speaking after it emerged that gardai involved in a car chase in which child-minder Diana Harton (43) was killed in October last year were not trained to deal with the situation.

Mr Seavers' mother, Mary (74), died after being hit by a garda car that careered out of control in Clonskeagh in May 2005 while responding to an emergency call.

At the time, a coroner recommended that a review of garda emergency call-out procedures should take place, but Mr Seavers sees no evidence of any change.

"The Garda Siochana Inspectorate are failing miserably in their role," he said.

"They are not achieving their mission statement to 'maintain the highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness in its operation and administration, as measured by reference to the best standards of comparable police services'.


"There are a lot of very good gardai out there, but they are let down by management, the culture and some of their colleagues.

"We need to ask what happens when a coroner makes recommendations. Is it anyone's responsibility to check they are implemented? Does anything change?"

In his mother's case, a forensic collision investigator told the coroner's court that the garda car would have had to have been travelling above the safe speed of 70kph for the car to lose control on a bend in the road.

Last July, the office of the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) was given the go-ahead by the Supreme Court to proceed with a probe into the alleged inadequacy of the investigation into the Clonskeagh crash.

The chief investigating off-icer, Sgt Andrew Keegan, had taken a case against GSOC in an attempt to stop it looking into his investigation of the incident.

In 2007, Mr Seavers complained to GSOC, saying the original investigation into his mother's death was inadequate, partly as it involved Sgt Keegan, a colleague from the same station as Gda Niamh Seberry, the driver in the collision.

GSOC initially said the complaint was inadmissible because it was not lodged in time. Then, in July 2008, it decided an investigation of its own was desirable in the public interest.

"Hearing cases like Diana Harton brings back memories of what happened to our mother. There isn't a day we don't think of her," said Mr Seavers.

"She was visiting our father who was in a nursing home at the time, and was waiting at the bus stop for the bus home."

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