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A navy ship berthed at the Naval Base Alamy Stock Photo
Domestic Violence

Defence Forces begin investigation into why sailor was not dismissed after assault conviction

Petty Officer David O’Gorman of Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny has been convicted of assault charges relating to an incident where he attacked his former girlfriend.

THE DEFENCE FORCES has commenced an investigation into why a sailor convicted of assaulting his former girlfriend has not been dismissed from the Naval Service. 

Brigadier General Rossa Mulcahy, Assistant Chief of Staff of the Irish military, arrived in the Naval Base this weekend after Defence Forces Headquarters were alerted to the issue.

Mulcahy, one of the country’s most senior officers, was despatched by the Chief of Staff Lt General Seán Clancy to discover why no proceedings for dismissal have taken place.

In the wake of protests around a separate case involving soldier Cathal Crotty last week, military leadership has also issued a directive that all internal discipline cases involving military personnel who have appeared before the civilian courts should be expedited.

It is understood that all brigade commanders have been asked to report any ongoing cases to Defence Forces Headquarters.

Naval Service case

One of the live cases is that of non-commissioned Petty Officer David O’Gorman, 37, of Drumgoole, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny who has been before the courts on assault charges relating to an incident where he attacked his former girlfriend. 

Local publication Limerick Live first reported the court appearance of O’Gorman last August.

A report on the website said that the boxer appeared before Judge Tom O’Donnell, the same judge who gave Irish Army Private Cathal Crotty a suspended sentence last week. The judge will retire from the bench this Wednesday. 

Evidence was given in court that O’Gorman, who is a heavyweight boxer and has competed with the Irish Naval Service team, attacked the woman during an argument.  

Judge O’Donnell was told that O’Gorman pleaded guilty to the offence, which happened in May 2020.

In her victim impact statement to the court, the victim said that she was left bleeding from the face and that she was afraid to smile because she felt that it would show how the assault injuries had deformed the area around her eye.

Judge O’Donnell would suspended O’Gorman’s sentence for the assault after he paid compensation to the victim last November.  

Following the conviction, O’Gorman returned to duty in Haulbowline Naval Base which is based in Cork Harbour. He is still serving with the Naval Service. 

Military regulations for a courts martial require a certificate of conviction in order to determine the fate of serving members who are convicted of a criminal offence in a civilian court.

Sources have confirmed that O’Gorman was brought before a senior officer in the Naval Service in a process that is known as being “paraded”, which marks the beginning of the disciplinary process. 

Sources have said that in the case of O’Gorman, the certificate of conviction for the case involving his former girlfriend is not yet in the possession of the naval legal section.

A source familiar with the process of obtaining such a document said that there are certain limitations for employers obtaining this type of formal confirmation. 

It is understood that the Courts Service do not routinely issue the certificate to employers on an informal request basis.

At times, the process requires an affidavit to be sworn before the courts.

A source said that one alternative could be for a request to be made for confirmation of a conviction from the Director of Public Prosecutions. 

Defence Forces response

Asked about the case, a statement from the Defence Forces said there is no place for “gender-based violence, abuse or any form or inappropriate behaviour” by members, on or off duty.

It added that the force “unequivocally condemns any actions by serving personnel that are contrary to military regulations or that do not reflect our values”.

The Defence Forces added that a conviction in a civilian court “has implications” for the continued employment of a member of the military. 

“Once due process has been completed in a civilian court of law, it is then a matter for the relevant Defence Forces authorities in accordance with military regulations.

“In the case you refer to, an administrative process is ongoing and the Naval Service has engaged with the Court Service in that regard.

“For this reason, it would be inappropriate to make further comment on this matter at this time. The Chief of Staff is preparing a report at the request of An Tánaiste,” the statement concluded. 

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