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The site of the crash in 2021.

Policing groups slam release of decision to prosecute garda in connection with fatal N7 crash

A Garda being prosecuted for a fatal crash that occurred when he was pursuing three men in 2021 has not been made aware of the exact charge he is facing.

LAST UPDATE | 11 May 2023

A GROUP REPRESENTING rank and file gardaí has strongly criticised the process by which a garda was informed that he was to be prosecuted in connection with a fatal crash in which three men died while fleeing from gardaí. 

President of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) Brendan O’Connor was speaking after the impending prosecution of the garda was revealed at an inquest. 

“The news that any member would face the threat of criminal charges for any actions while carrying out their duty for the protection of the public has come as a shock and is extremely concerning for our members,” he said. 

Earlier, the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) had criticised the DPP’s decision to prosecute a Garda for a fatal crash that occurred during the pursuit of three men in 2021 without informing him of the charge he is facing.

The three victims – Dean Maguire (29), Karl Freeman (26) and Graham Taylor (31) – were killed instantly when their BMW vehicle burst into flames following a head-on crash with a truck between Citywest and Baldonnel on 7 July, 2021 while they were driving on the wrong side of the carriageway.

The funeral of Maguire at St Mary’s Priory church in Tallaght garnered international headlines after a screwdriver and torch – tools associated with burglars – were brought to the altar as offertory gifts, while many attendees ignored attempts by local priests to limit the numbers in church and to get the congregation to observe social distancing and mask-wearing as part of Covid-19 restrictions.

A poster brought to the church read: “RIP Dean – You know the score, get on the floor, don’t be funny, give me the money.”

Fr Donal Roche, who oversaw the requiem ceremony and threatened to halt proceedings at one stage if greater respect was not shown in church, subsequently described it as the “most disturbing” funeral he had ever attended.

The coroner, Clare Keane, was informed that the DPP had taken the decision to initiate the prosecution yesterday based on a file submitted by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSCOC) which investigated the circumstances of the fatal crash.

The Garda had not been summonsed to yesterday’s hearing.

GSOC has denied earlier reports that the garda in question was not informed. It’s understood that the Garda in question was informed by his legal representative of the DPP’s intention to prefer charges before the Coroner’s Court hearing took place.

The general secretary of the AGSI, Antoinette Cunningham, told RTÉ’s News at One that the lack of information that the Garda facing prosecution has of his own trial is “unacceptable”.

“Everyone, on a basic human rights level, is entitled to know the full details of any criminal charges that are going to be brought against them before it is put out into the public domain.”

“To think that GSOC would go into a Coroner’s Court and say there will be a criminal prosecution but the full details of this are not going to be shared at this moment, that’s unacceptable and it’s wrong,” she said.

A GSOC spokesperson said: “During a sitting of Dublin District Coroner’s Court yesterday, GSOC confirmed that the DPP has made a direction for prosecution in this matter, which was the subject of an investigation by GSOC.

“GSOC is not in a position to comment further on the charges at this time, as summonses are in the process of being prepared. However the exact nature of the charges will be made known in due course.”

Families of the men killed have also criticised the lack of information around the case, with one family member saying he was concerned he would read about the charge in the newspapers unless the coroner compelled GSOC to disclose the offence.

 With reporting from Seán McCárthaigh

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Niall O'Connor and Jamie McCarron