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City Hall in Waterford. Alamy
Waterford

Chairman asks woman to not discuss Garda complaint at local authority's policing meeting

He said that while she suffered an “absolutely life-changing experience”, it would not be appropriate to discuss the case in public.

A WOMAN WHO came upon a man killed outside her house has told a public meeting on policing in Waterford that she now “suffers PTSD” from witnessing the scene. 

She alleged she had been “let down” by her local council and “by members of An Garda Síochána” on a night in the county in July 2018. 

The chair of the meeting, Seán Aylward, who is a former secretary general of the Department of Justice and director of the Irish Prison Service, told the woman that he was sorry for the “suffering she encountered and the sad loss of a human being” in connection with the incident, but he said that it could not be discussed in a public forum. 

The woman said she has spoken to the Garda Ombudsman – GSOC – in relation to the incident. 

She named the victim who died as Jack Power – the 25-year-old fisherman was fatally stabbed by Dean Kerrie (21) after entering Kerrie’s home in the middle of the night in Shanakiel, Dunmore East.

Sentencing hearing

At a sentencing hearing last October, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said Kerrie was entitled to use force in defence of himself, his family and his home, but the force he used was “grossly” excessive given that Power was unarmed.

Kerrie was jailed for three-and-a-half years by the Central Criminal Court after a jury convicted him of manslaughter.

The policing meeting, which took place last Monday night in Waterford’s City Hall, is part of a pilot project by the Department of Justice called the Community Safety Partnership.

It was attended by senior and middle ranking gardaí in Waterford, members of Waterford City and County Council and a representative of the Policing Authority.

Addressing the meeting, which allowed some questions from members of the public, the woman said she suffers post-traumatic stress disorder following the incident.

“I still look for street lights outside my house. The paramedics told me afterwards, they were able to work on the victim – who sadly passed – because I had a sensor light,” she told the room.

“I am a victim of PTSD because Waterford City and County Council and members of An Garda Síochána let me down because of that night in July when I had to go through that.”

Aylward interjected as the woman spoke, saying that while he believed she suffered an “absolutely life-changing experience”, it would not be appropriate to discuss the case further in public.

“The personal experiences that you’re talking to there, in a public forum, it’s unfortunately a very personal case and it wouldn’t be fair on me to put the guards on the spot,” he said.

“I’m really sorry for the suffering that you encountered and the sad loss of a human being there, but this isn’t the forum where we could pursue a case as personal as that.”

He added that she had spoken “her truth”, and advised her to bring the issue to independent agencies.

“I do want to say that in the way our society and our institution are structured, there are formal and independent bodies charged with taking up any direct complaint about Garda performance in relation to an individual case, where there’s been alleged [sic] a failure of duty. They are the forum who would pursue any valid complaint,” Aylward said.

“You clearly had an absolutely life-changing experience and I want to express my sympathy to you, but I can’t really take it further than that here tonight. It wouldn’t be fair to you or to anybody involved in the process.”

The woman said she had spoken to GSOC about the matter and thanked Aylward before the meeting carried on with other business.

When contacted, a spokesman for GSOC said it does not comment on or confirm the existence of complaints in order to “protect both complainants and those complained of”.

The Garda Press Office has been contacted for comment.

Waterford City and County Council said it could not comment on an individual case and said that the issue was one for gardaí.

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