18 Aug 2022

Detective garda challenges decision to summarily dismiss him from the force

Detective garda challenges decision to summarily dismiss him from the force

Detective challenges decision to summarily dismiss him from the force

A detective who suffers from PTSD arising out of threats made against him and his family by criminals has brought a high court action aimed at preventing his dismissal from An Garda Síochána.

The action has been brought by Detective Garda Aidan Bracken, who was informed earlier this year that he was being dismissed over his admission before a circuit criminal court of a charge of making a false report.

The detective launched proceedings after the garda commissioner informed him that, subject to the consent of the policing authority, it is proposed to summarily dismiss the detective from the gardaí because he's considered unfit for retention in the force. 

The court heard the detective is a 20-year veteran who has not worked for five years due to psychiatric injuries sustained while on duty. 

Detective Bracken, who was stationed in Carbury, Kildare, was charged with making a false report. In 2019, he pleaded guilty to the criminal offence before Wicklow Circuit Court.

The garda accepted that he made a false report concerning threats he claimed were made against himself, his family and his colleagues.

At the time the detective, who had been informed by his superiors that his life was at risk, had been suffering from serious mental health issues including paranoia, stress and PTSD due to other serious threats he had received from violent criminal gang members. 

The judge hearing that case determined that given the extenuating circumstances no punishment was warranted and dismissed the charges under the Probation Act.

As a result of that action, the commissioner citing Regulation 39 of the 2007 Garda Discipline Regulations informed the detective that he was to be dismissed from the force.

John Kennedy SC, with Rory Kennedy Bl instructed by solicitor Eoin Powderly, told the court that the commissioner appeared to base the decision on what he said was Detective Bracken's 'conviction' at the circuit court.

Counsel said no conviction was recorded against his client by the circuit court. While that may have been an error, counsel said that the state never returned before the circuit seeking to correct that error.

Counsel said that regulation 39, where a garda can be summarily sacked by the commissioner, was something that can be done when the commissioner was absolutely certain that a member had engaged in serious breach of discipline.

Counsel said that the commissioner could not envoke such a draconian measure against the detective where there was, at the very least, a doubt over what the circuit court had handed down.

In the circumstances, counsel said that the commissioner's decision to dismiss Detective Bracken, who had taken other high court proceedings against the commissioner in relation to his payments while on leave, should be quashed by the court.

Opposing the application, the commissioner, represented by Margaret Nerney SC with Martin Fitzgerald Bl, claims the detective's action was premature and had been taken before the process under the relevant garda regulation had been completed.

In a statement of opposition, the commissioner also argued that the decision taken was correct and added that the detective had pleaded guilty to a criminal charge before the circuit court.

In his action, Detective Bracken seeks various orders, including one preventing his dismissal, and one directing the commissioner to provide the detective with adequate reasons for the decision.

He also seeks declarations from the court including that the commissioner has breached the detective's constitutional rights and rights to fair procedures by failing to consider all relevant material facts prior to deciding to dismiss the detective.  

The application was before Mr Justice Charles Meenan, who following the conclusion of submissions from the parties reserved his decision.

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