herald

Sunday 18 August 2019

Top sports figure arrested as 'link man' in garda corruption enquiry

The investigation has already led to the arrests of three gardai. Stock photo
The investigation has already led to the arrests of three gardai. Stock photo

A leading sports figure is the latest suspect to be arrested in a long-running probe into garda corruption.

A source told the Herald last night the arrested man was believed to be "the link man" at the centre of the investigation.

"This man was arrested because he is suspected of being the link - the conduit - between the criminal gangs and a detective who was leaking information," a senior source said.

The unprecedented investigation has already led to the arrests and suspensions of a garda superintendent, inspector and detective.

Yesterday it emerged a well-known figure in the sporting world had been arrested as part of the undercover probe.

The suspect, in his 50s, was questioned for a number of hours at Tipperary Town Garda Station on Thursday after being arrested by detectives from the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (GNBCI).

It is understood the sports figure has connections to a number of crime gangs, including mobsters linked to Anthony Kelly, of Kilrush, Co Clare, who was previously cleared of the murder of innocent bouncer Brian Fitzgerald.

Kelly settled with the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) in 1997 for a substantial six-figure sum relating to his earnings from drug trafficking.

Prostitution

In February 1984, he was convicted of living off the earnings of prostitution.

The suspect does not have a criminal background but is alleged to have helped with the flow of information about CAB activities to members of crime gangs in the mid-west.

A detective garda, one of three members of the force arrested for questioning last May, was also suspected of having committed a similar offence of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The garda is based in the mid-west division but is currently suspended from duty by Commissioner Drew Harris.

The garda has been arrested twice as part of the investigation being carried out by detectives from the GNBCI into alleged wrongdoing or corruption involving gardai in the southern region.

A number of other civilians are likely to be detained in the coming weeks and more gardai could also be arrested.

Gardai said the arrests opened up new lines of enquiry to be pursued.

The investigation, which has been ongoing for the past year, has included covert surveillance and examination of phone records.

It has focused on the suspected leaking of information by gardai to members of a big organised crime gang, based in the Limerick area but operating on a wider scale.

This included information about a planned search-and-seize operation by the CAB, targeting members of the gang and other criminal associates with loose connections to the network.

The leaks were said to have compromised that operation initially.

The investigation was expanded to include an allegation, arising out of technical enquiries by officers based in the Phoenix Park into phone calls made by criminals, that a garda had been paid around €20,000 for information.

Some of the information was said to have been linked with a planned raid on premises and homes connected to criminals in Limerick city and county, as well as Tipperary.

Despite the information leak, the raids by the CAB went ahead earlier this year and resulted in the seizure of 115 cars in counties Limerick and Tipperary, the confiscation of more than €44,000 in cash and a Rolex watch and the freezing of €30,000 in a bank account.

Also arrested in May was a superintendent for a suspected breach of the Garda Siochana Act by allegedly disclosing information, obtained during the course of his duties, to another, knowing the disclosure was likely to have a harmful effect.

An inspector was detained for a suspected breach of provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

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