Belfast Telegraph

No action over 'rape tape' police

The Garda watchdog has urged the force's chief to take disciplinary action against one officer over an investigation into the "rape tape" controversy.

But James Gill, the sergeant found to have made remarks about two female protesters arrested at a controversial Shell gas project at Erris, Co Mayo will escape any action because he recently retired.

The Garda Ombudsman said there were no grounds for any criminal case, based on the available evidence, against any of the five officers involved in the incident on March 31 last year. They were investigated for potential criminal offences, under misconduct in public office laws, after a pocket video camera seized from one of two arrested female demonstrators inadvertently recorded the sergeant afterwards in a patrol car joking about raping them.

The remarks were made public by one of the protesters, Jerrie Ann Sullivan, who was handed back the digital camera after her release. The second woman, believed to be a US citizen, did not wish to be named.

The ombudsman investigation found four rank-and-file gardai involved gave "full and frank" accounts when interviewed under caution, and all four confirmed the "rape" remarks were made by Sgt Gill. However, the sergeant exercised his right to silence throughout his questioning and "largely gave a 'no-comment' interview," it was found.

But when claims by a garda detective present during the arrests that one of the women might first have used the word "rape" were put to him, he said he had heard the word used at the scene but could not say by whom or whether it was by a man or a woman.

That allegation could not be corroborated because sound quality on Garda footage of the arrests was too poor. While two officers were found to have no case to answer, a third had the case against him dropped because of a lack of evidence. Another, referred to as Garda B, had a "more active" role in the taped conversation, the watchdog found.

The comments related to the Rossport Solidarity Camp and inferred the women may be carrying a disease of some sort, the watchdog report said.

The watchdog has sent a report to Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, recommending disciplinary proceedings against Garda B. Both he and Sgt Gill were invited to make submissions or give evidence to the ombudsman on possible disciplinary action but they declined.

Because the sergeant retired on November 1 last year, he is no longer subject to disciplinary procedures and the case against him was dropped.

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