herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Seanie’s night in cold cell

SEAN FitzPatrick spent a restless night in a cold garda cell.

The 61-year-old former Anglo Irish chief was checked every 15 minutes by a garda as he spent eight hours in the cell block.

Officers said it was standard practice to take the prisoner’s belt and laces. This morning he resumed his questioning by detectives from the National Fraud Bureau at 8am in Bray garda station.

His lawyer, highly rated criminal law solicitor Michael Staines, arrived at the station around the same time today.

Dinner and breakfast were delivered from outside caterers on a plastic tray, wrapped in foil. Mr FitzPatrick would have had no access to television, radio or phone during his period of custody.

“The cells are designed to provide basic comfort, there’s nothing that a prisoner could harm themselves with,” a source said.

Herald crime analyst, ex-Detective Superintendent PJ Browne, said garda cells “are rather drab places but kept clean. In the cell there’s a stand-up toilet, a bed with a basic pillow and a grey blanket to keep the prisoner warm.”

"He would have been in there from midnight until 8am," the insider added.

"If he wanted a drink like tea or coffee it would have been delivered to him. There would be no facilities for making it in the cell," the source said.

FitzPatrick would have been checked on several times during the night, and a log kept detailing whether he was awake or asleep.

"Prisoners could be checked every fifteen minutes," the source added.

The cell is described as a medium sized room designed to accommodate "one prisoner and one prisoner only".

"There would be no special treatment, everyone is treated the same," the source explained.

"When it comes to meals there isn't a menu or anything, a prisoner would be given a couple of options and asked to choose from that," they added.

The lights in the cell are controlled from outside.

"There are no windows or anything. In some of the cells there is a narrow slot," the source said.

Meanwhile, at FitzPatrick's house in Greystones the family stayed behind closed doors with the blinds drawn.

The new electronic gates remained shut overnight, and CCTV cameras kept watch on the driveway and entrance.

The former Anglo Irish Bank chairman was being questioned under Section 10 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001.





QUIZZED

He was photographed and finger-printed before being quizzed.

More used to top restaurants like Patrick Guilbaud and L'Ecrivain, the once high-flying businessman got a fast-food lunch at the garda station.

His arrest was the first high-profile detention of a senior banking figure under the 2001 Act.

However, further arrests of key figures from the financial sector are expected.

Detectives were quizzing Mr FitzPatrick over allegations of false accounting. Breaches of these laws carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

Officers had at least a further five hours from 8am today.

His detention was extended twice yesterday -- for six hours before lunchtime and for a further 12 hours yesterday evening.

Mr FitzPatrick was the first executive to be arrested and questioned in the wake of financial scandals, which saw the nationalisation of Anglo in January last year.

Gardai removed a large quantity of documents as well as a computer from Mr FitzPatrick's home yesterday.

He had no prior warning he was to be arrested and his home searched.

It will be a number of months before the investigating team is in a position to forward files to the DPP.

His solicitor Mr Staines left Bray Garda station shortly before midnight.

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan said there was "an extensive Garda investigation under way".

He added: "I have been cautious not to prejudice that investigation and am eager to see justice take its course."

It is believed Mr FitzPatrick was being questioned on a number of matters being investigated by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

These issues include the concealment of loans transferred off the books of Anglo.

Mr FitzPatrick resigned as chairman of Anglo in December 2008 after it emerged he had hidden loans by transferring them to Irish Nationwide.

Anglo issued legal proceedings against Mr FitzPatrick last week to recover loans of €70m which he stopped servicing last year. It is believed the former executive is not in a position to repay the money.

hnews@herald.ie

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