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Garda harassed female sergeant by sending her card, emails and Facebook request

He had been given numerous warnings from his superiors not to contact her.

Image: Shutterstock/Gil C

A GARDA HARASSED a female sergeant by sending her a Valentine’s Card, emails and a friend request on Facebook despite numerous warnings from his superiors not to have any contact with her.

Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, told a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that the fact Garda Donal Maguire harassed the woman is not disputed, but rather the jurors have to determine if he was suffering from a mental disorder at the time.

Not guilty plea

Garda Maguire (40) of Rock Road., Bundoran, Co Donegal has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to two counts of harassing the woman at a location in Dublin on dates between 18 February and 11 March 11, 2012 and between 1 August 2012 and 4 February 2013.

Detective Superintendent Walter O’Sullivan outlined the facts of the harassment to the jury. He said Garda Maguire first met the sergeant at the Dublin garda station he was working from in 2011. She believed there was nothing personal in their interaction.

In February 2012 the woman received a Valentine’s Card signed by the accused which stated that he never dreamed how wonderful his life could really be until the day “you came along”.

He said he was so happy, that she meant the world to him and signed it with “love and eternal gratitude”.

Garda Maguire had also transcribed the poem The Cloths of Heaven by William Butler Yeats onto the card. The sergeant initially thought it was a joke but later confirmed it was Garda Maguire’s signature and asked to speak to him privately.

He confirmed that he had sent the card and she told him that it was totally unwanted and unwelcome. She said they were both married with children, she had no romantic interest in him and if he did it again she would report him.

A number of days later she was told he had phoned the station looking for her. She wasn’t there and she didn’t return his call. A week later he rang her to tell her he was due to go on leave and there was no one to cover his station.

She told Garda Maguire this was not her responsibility and advised him who to contact. She felt he was using the call as an excuse to speak to her.

On 6 March she got an email from him, through the garda Pulse system, asking for her help in re-housing his Yorkshire Terrier Toto. She was concerned and worried about it and she was angry he had used Pulse to send it.

He had to come off his beat in order to send the mail and she was concerned that he had gone to such lengths to contact her.

Two days later he sent her another email via Pulse apologising, “for all the nonsense I have caused you”. He said he would understand if she were angry with him and signed off saying:

I hope everything is good in your life.

She didn’t reply to the email but three days later got another one through Pulse. It was a joke email that had been circulated with other members of the force.

It was followed by two further emails sent at 3.19am, one of which started “I love you and I want all your life into mine”. The follow-up email corrected an error in the first saying he was “morto”.

Upset and frightened

Detective Superintendent O’Sullivan said the woman was becoming more upset and frightened and was anxious about opening her emails. She contacted her superior and told him about the card and the emails but didn’t make a formal complaint.

The colleague immediately went out to where Garda Maguire was on duty and spoke to him about the situation. The accused said he was very fond of the woman and had not meant to upset her. He said would not contact her again.

There was no communication for six months until she received an email, again via pulse, from Garda Maguire which said he was just back at work and catching up on things. “Hope all is good with you” he said and signed off as Donal.

She took this as an attempt to reconnect. She was angry but ignored the email. The following day she received another email asking to meet up for coffee.

It was at this point she realised she would have to make a formal complaint to stop the harassment. She went on holidays and returned to the station to hear he had rang for her while she was away.

That same day he turned up at the station looking for her. She went down and spoke to him but the following day she arranged a meeting to make the formal complaint and later submitted a report.

Garda Maguire was dealt with via garda disciplinary regulations but she received another email from him that day saying:

I couldn’t help dropping my jaw off your floor. If you find my missing teeth let me know.

Detective Superintendent O’Sullivan said it was clear to the woman that the Garda Maguire’s warnings had not worked and his access to the Pulse system was revoked. He again undertook not to contact her again.

Garda Maguire then turned up at the Garda 10km run where he was spotted staring at the woman after approaching her to say hello. Although he was also a member of the same running club, other gardaí were surprised to see him there as he usually didn’t participate in the races.

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He was again approached by superiors and gave an oral undertaking to leave the woman alone but he went on to send her a friend request on Facebook two weeks later.

Impact of harassment

The court heard that the harassment impacted on the woman’s work and family life and caused her great stress. She felt physically sick, annoyed and concerned on receiving the communications from Garda Maguire.

She was granted annual leave following the Facebook contact from Garda Maguire because her superiors believed she was not in “a fit position to do her work”.

Detective Superintendent Walter O’Sullivan agreed with Ronan Kennedy BL, defending, that when Garda Maguire was interviewed in June 2013, he said he was infatuated with the woman and this was not reciprocated.

He accepted that he had been warned to stop communicating with the sergeant but had continued contact despite this.

Detective Superintendent O’Sullivan agreed with Kennedy that Garda Maguire had difficulty understanding what he had been doing was wrong and that he had been causing the woman stress.

He accepted that, following the interview, both he and his colleagues had concerns for Garda Maguire’s wellbeing.

Small told the jury in opening the trial that the defence agree that the accused harassed the woman.

She told the jury it will hear from consultant psychiatrist Dr Brenda Wright this morning who will testify that in her view Garda Maguire, “didn’t know what he was doing was wrong, was unable to appreciate the significance and wrongness of the act and that he was unable to refrain from doing his actions”.

The trial continues today before Judge Elma Sheahan and jury of three women and nine men.

Read: Three men charged with trying to “crucify” man with a nail gun at Limerick house>

About the author:

Sonya McClean

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