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Woman who dodged bus fare claims gardaí 'snatched' her child

Gardaí have been cleared of any alleged wrongdoing.

Image: bius stop button image via Shutterstock

THE GARDA OMBUDSMAN has upheld the findings of an investigation which concluded there was no wrongdoing by gardaí in two incidents involving a woman who had not paid a bus fare for her child.

A bus driver called gardaí after the woman refused to pay the fare for her child and in her complaint she claimed one of them “snatched” the child from her. She ran to a nearby garda station – leaving her child with the gardaí on the bus – seemingly to complain or ask for help.

However at the station she began screaming and shouting in what she reported as panic and distress. She said she was thrown to the ground and handcuffed by gardaí. She was arrested but later released with a caution.

In her complaint she claimed there had been an abuse of authority by gardaí involved in these two incidents. An investigation into her complaint was launched by a garda superintendent who interviewed the woman and gardaí involved, looked at notebook entries from officers about the incidents and took a statement from the inspector who had viewed CCTV footage at the garda station where she was arrested.

Gardaí who responded to the initial incident at the bus stated they were concerned for the welfare of the young child who appeared frightened by the women’s behaviour. Officers at the garda station also claimed she tried to swipe at, strike and bite them when being arrested. They said this made the use of handcuffs necessary.

The investigation concluded that because of the “erratic behaviour” of the complainant, some use of force was required.

The superintendent found that she was only handcuffed and arrested when other courses of action in trying to calm her down failed. He assessed that the use of force was proportionate and, as a result, there was no breach of discipline on the part of the gardaí concerned.

Dissatisfied with the result of the investigation, the woman then took her complaint to GSOC. A review found the initial investigation was proportionate and there was insufficient evidence to support the woman’s claims.

Read: Shell asked for £25,000 worth of alcohol to be delivered to gardaí in Mayo, court told>

Read: Gardaí cleared following allegations of pepper spraying woman and ‘refusing her water and medical attention’>

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