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Belmullet District Court Report - Shell to Sea ‘3’ Accused.

category mayo | environment | news report author Thursday May 24, 2007 23:56author by Niall Harnett - Shell to Sea. Report this post to the editors

“I didn’t think anything.” - Garda Sgt Dermot Butler MY28. “That’s clear.” - Alan Gannon, Solicitor for the Defendants.

Belmullet District Court - Monday 21st May 2007.

A synopsis and flavour of the first day in an estimated 2 day sitting of Belmullet District Court where 3 men, ‘the Chief’ Patrick O’Donnell, Johnathan O’Donnell and Enda Carey are accused of assault causing harm to members of An Garda Síochána near the proposed Shell Refinery Site, Bellanaboy, Co Mayo on 12th October 2006.

14 Gardaí gave oral evidence for the prosecution, with some video evidence shown also in court on Monday 21st May.

Defence witnesses will be called at the next sitting for this case, set for Wed 30th May. Judge Mary Devins has also asked to visit the ‘locus’ of the incident on that morning before court and will be accompanied to the place of alleged incident at Bellanaboy, by the prosecuting Superintendent and the solicitor for the defendants, Mr Alan Gannon.
Enda Carey, Johnathan O’Donnell and his father Pat O’Donnell arrive at court.
Enda Carey, Johnathan O’Donnell and his father Pat O’Donnell arrive at court.

Garda Sgt Donal Glennon gave evidence that while on “crowd control and public order duty”, he was walking along the verge of the Bellanaboy road where the road was blocked from side to side, by a sit down protest of a large number of people, he had been ‘struck in the midriff’ before ending up head first into 3-4 feet of water in a steep sided drain which runs along the side and below the level of the road. Sgt Glennon suffered a fractured thumb arising out of this incident where he said he did not see who pushed him into the drain. A video of the incident which was shown in court could not clarify how Sgt Glennon had fallen into the drain but could only show a number of people climbing back out of the drain including the Sergeant and two of the defendants. Under cross-examination by Mr. Alan Gannon, solicitor for the defendants, who pointed out that for Gardaí to attempt to clear the road by dangerously compressing people into a smaller space of road with deep drains on either side would result in people instinctively pushing back to protect themselves, Sgt Glennon accepted that Gardaí had inadvertently been pushed into the drains on previous occasions when similar incidents had happened at Bellanaboy. Sgt. Glennon conceded to Mr Gannon that he did not know what caused him to end up in the drain and he could not say that it was an assault.

Garda Barry Byrne gave evidence that while on duty a little later on in the morning he was hit in the side of the head by the fist of Johnathan O’Donnell while there was a lot of pushing and shoving going on. While detained at Belmullet Garda station, it appears that Mr O’Donnell was questioned only in relation to the earlier incident involving Sgt Glennon and not about the offence for which he was arrested. Questions were raised by solicitor Mr. Alan Gannon about Garda Byrne’s ‘adherence to the Act of legislation’ under which Mr O’Donnell had been detained. Mr Gannon went on to point out that “mistakes had been made” by ‘Member in Charge’ Garda Gerry Luby, interviewers Sgt James Gill and Garda Barry Byrne with regard to the protection of Mr O’Donnell’s rights while in custody.

Garda Dave Mulhall gave evidence and described himself as a member of a “plain clothes unit attached to ‘specialist training’ at Templemore under Sgt. Conor O’Reilly”, who Garda Mulhall described as a “Public Order Advisor & Specialist“. Garda Mulhall said that there were 4 individuals including the 3 defendants, who tackled Sgt Glennon in a rugby style tackle causing him to fall back into the drain.

Garda Mulhall was questioned by Mr Gannon about the history of the relationship between Garda Mulhall and the two defendants, Pat & Johnathan O’Donnell. It’s well known that Garda Mulhall’s life was saved in 1997 by both Pat & Johnathan O‘Donnell, when Garda divers and Irish Coast Guard members got into trouble at sea trying to rescue a family in darkness from a flooded cave in an increasingly dangerous swell. Garda Mulhall dismissed the extraordinary efforts of the two men to whom he owes his life, commenting that “any member of such a close knit community would have assisted in such a search and rescue operation”. Four people drowned that night and one of the men rescued, among others, was Garda Mulhall who was pulled from the sea by Pat O’Donnell and his 12 year old son (at the time) Johnathan, who were, in fact, the ‘only members of that community’ who went to sea together after having heard a distress call go out on a VHF emergency channel at home in their house earlier that evening.

Sergeant Dermot Butler gave evidence by reading a written account of an interview where he and Garda Gary Walsh had questioned Pat O’Donnell in the video interview room. Sgt Butler said that “he had become aware of the Sgt Glennon incident” and took responsibility for its investigation. Mr Gannon, defence solicitor, felt it was important for the judge to see the full interview on video as Sgt. Butler’s account of it differed materially from the video. As well as showing verbal abuse by Sgt Butler on the tape which was not recorded in the written account, where Sgt Butler called Mr'O'Donnell "a liar and a fucking liar", there were also questions raised as to the legality of the continued detention of Mr O’Donnell for questioning, the procedure by which the interview was conducted, and an allegation by Mr O’Donnell on tape that he had been punched in the chin by Sergeant James Gill at the time of the alleged incident. Sgt Butler was questioned as to why he had not investigated that incident after hearing complaint of it from Mr O’Donnell, but instead chose to investigate the Sgt Glennon incident when no complaint had been made to him by Sgt. Glennon himself. Mr Gannon pointed out that a Sergeant has ‘unique investigative powers’ and when Mr O’Donnell gave him information of his assault, then Sgt Butler was duty bound to investigate it. As Sgt Butler persisted in avoiding many questions in this regard, Mr Gannon asked him “What were you thinking at the time Sgt Butler”. “I didn’t think anything” was Sgt Butler’s reply. “That’s clear” said Mr Gannon.
Sgt. Butler has been a Garda for 20 years.

There followed evidence from Sergeant James Gill who interviewed Johnathan O’Donnell, and evidence from Garda Gerry Luby who, as ‘Member in Charge’ of the station, was instrumental in securing the continued detention of the defendants for interview. Whereas the defendants were arrested for Assault - Section 3 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997; they were detained in custody under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984, an act whereby, as Mr Gannon pointed out, there must be a high standard of evidence that the prisoner is guilty of the offence for which he was arrested, and where there must be good reason to believe that the prisoner is guilty of that offence, and where that offence carries a penalty of five years imprisonment or more.

Sgt Gill admitted that he couldn’t see the difference between ‘involvement’ and ‘guilt’. Sgt Gill had said to Johnathan O’Donnell in the interview that ‘he had seen him do it’, but admitted under cross-examination that ‘he didn’t see him’. Sgt Gill admitted ‘assuming incorrectly ’ Mr O’Donnell’s ‘involvement’ in the incident. “Do you think it’s right to put untruths to a person in interview Sgt. Gill”, asked Mr Gannon. Sgt. Gill did not answer.

Garda Luby gave evidence that Enda Carey, who had been arrested for a ‘breach of the peace’ offence contrary to Section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994, was detained and re-arrested on release for a Section 3 Assault Offence. Under cross-examination from Mr Gannon, Garda Luby could not give lawful provision from the ‘Public Order Act’ for his detention in the first instance. Nor could Garda Luby say what authority he had to hold Johnathan O’Donnell in continued detention, nor give good reason for the authorisation of the taking of fingerprints and palm prints of all three suspects. Mr Gannon pointed out that it was Garda Luby’s duty as ‘Member in Charge’, under the Criminal Justice Act, 1984 (Treatment of Persons in Custody in Garda Síochána Stations) Regulations, 1987, to “look out for proper procedure in relation to the defendants and to protect them from mistreatment“.

Evidence from other Gardaí during the day showed inconsistencies in testimony and conflicting accounts of what happened. There was no video evidence of anyone going into the drain, only footage of Sgt Glennon and 2 of the defendants climbing back out, which evidence or lack of it the Gardaí seem to have relied upon for their investigation, where Sgt Butler admitted to not even seeing the video before initiating his investigation. The defendants deny the charges and serious questions are raised as to the legitimacy of their arrest, detention and prosecution.

Next date for hearing is Wednesday 30th May where evidence will be heard from the defendants and their witnesses.

Related Link: http://www.shelltosea.com

Media, Supporters …
Media, Supporters …

… And Friends.
… And Friends.

Sgt. Dermot Butler MY28 with other Gardaí.
Sgt. Dermot Butler MY28 with other Gardaí.

Garda Gary Walsh MY175, Garda Gerry Luby MY166 & Sgt James Gill MY23.
Garda Gary Walsh MY175, Garda Gerry Luby MY166 & Sgt James Gill MY23.

author by Jakepublication date Fri May 25, 2007 10:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Very clearly and well written. Can't wait for part two. As usual indymedia's court reports are a higher standard than the msm.

author by Anthony O'Halloranpublication date Fri May 25, 2007 11:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

One man's mobile phone went off in the court room shortly after 12 noon, during, as the judge put it, a very tense moment of cross-examination. The man was summonsed to the front of the court by the judge and asked to account for himself. He said he was very sorry. The judge made clear her well known intolerance of mobile phones in court and told him that he would be taken to Belmullet Garda Station till 1pm when he would be returned to the courtroom to make an apology before lunch. He was instructed by the judge to hand over his phone to a Garda. He returned before lunch, apologised to the court and his phone was returned to him.

After lunch another man who had been taking notes in the first session. was challenged by the judge on the contents of his large bag, the judge saying that she was suspicious that there might be a video camera in it. The man informed the judge that his bag contained books, files and a photo camera which he assured the judge was not turned on. The judge questioned the man as to why he was taking notes. He answered that he was there as a member of the public in support of the three accused and was taking notes to assist himself in the memory of events and the legal processes if the court . The judge suggested to him that it would be good courtesy to inform the court of any intention to take notes to which he replied that he was not aware of that, and that was the end of the matter.

I, the author of this comment, respectfully suggest that it would be good courtesy not to question any member of the public on their reasons for taking notes in court, where "justice shall be administered in public", - Article 34.1, the Constitution of Ireland.

Outside court proceedings, and at Belmullet District Court, Superintendent Joe Gannon and Sergeant Dermot Butler were served with summonses commanding them to appear at Belmullet District Court on Wednesday 13th June to answer charges of assault on a 'complainant' and the criminal damage and theft of his property at a Shell to Sea protest on 10th November 2006. These summonses were issued at Westport District Court earlier this month, and Inspector Patrick Robinson, who was not at Belmullet Courthouse, is also commanded to appear to answer those same charges.

author by karen fallonpublication date Fri May 25, 2007 11:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

a good clear article all in all. well done.
court support is extremely important and i think the issues arround people taking notes in court should be challenged. it is a constitutional right and the judge cannot change the constitution.
well done and keep up the good work.

author by A O'Hpublication date Fri May 25, 2007 12:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yes Karen, there is a Judicial Review of Judge Mary Fahy's efforts to forbid note-takers in her Galway District Court, underway in the High Court in Dublin at the moment.

author by R. Isiblepublication date Fri May 25, 2007 13:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Garda Mulhall dismissed the extraordinary efforts of the two men to whom he owes his life, commenting that “any member of such a close knit community would have assisted in such a search and rescue operation”. Four people drowned that night and one of the men rescued, among others, was Garda Mulhall who was pulled from the sea by Pat O’Donnell and his 12 year old son (at the time) Johnathan, who were, in fact, the ‘only members of that community’ who went to sea together after having heard a distress call go out on a VHF emergency channel at home in their house earlier that evening.
This is a quite extraordinary facet of the story. Is the incident the one described in the report from the Western People at the link below in which Dave "Frogman" Mulhall describes the conditions as "horrendous, atrocious"?

Related Link: http://archives.tcm.ie/westernpeople/1997/10/29/News.htm
author by logicpublication date Fri May 25, 2007 17:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

what has what happened ten years ago in a rescue attempt to do with an alleged assault on one of our gardai at bellinaboy?
do you suggest, that because the defendents rescuded the garda from the sea a decade ago, that he belongs to them (salvage) and that they are free to assault him at will.
that really is a twisted logic.
If it is proven that they did indeed assault the gardai, then I hope the judge has the courage to lock them up for a long time.
we cant have thugs attacking our police at will (if proven) it would set a dangerous precedence for the future of our country.

author by cool jpublication date Fri May 25, 2007 17:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The number of people assaulted by the gardai at Bellanaboy far outways the number of gardai who claim the have been assaulted, indeed the same would go for the country as a whole!!

author by CLpublication date Fri May 25, 2007 17:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

HI cool,
welcome back.
this tread is covering the alleged assault of Gardai at bellanaboy, the alleged assaults by Gardai is for another day.

author by rdrpublication date Fri May 25, 2007 21:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

cos this story will be buried by the election results on the newswire... good write up though..

author by uspublication date Sat May 26, 2007 20:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why did you not inform the judge that she wasn't aware of the Constitutional rights ? You had a great opportunity there in open court with the media present to tackle her on the issue.

author by hopefulpublication date Sat May 26, 2007 21:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I hope for the sake of the decent people of Erris that the judge has the sense to let the defendants off with a suspended sentence and maybe a fine.
if there is one thing we "don't" need is 3 martyrs, and a reason for more strife in our area.
these men probably got caught up in the "mood" of the occasion and may have behaved in a way they normally wouldn't.
The best outcome would be case dismissed with a caution, or at worst a fine and bound to the peace. (not prison).

author by Justicepublication date Sat May 26, 2007 23:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Let the defendants off ..?

I think hopeful is confusing the defendants with the convicted, of which there are none yet it in this case.

Do not probably and may have fall very short of proof to even yourself hopeful?

author by You had to be there ? - Citizen of Irelandpublication date Mon May 28, 2007 03:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was there that mornin 12 th of October 2006, just north of where the incident took place, that mornin the male garda lined up behind the female garda and forcefuly pushed them into the protesters, with such pressure that the female gardas were heard shouting to stop! That they ( male garda) were hurting them and now they know that what I'm telling is what happened that day, is the truth. The garda hurt so many people during the protests that they have to say it wasn't them, because they know that there are many investagations into their behavior for assault. So the truth will come out and the lying garda will be what ? (cautioned,) but what about the the people who have been brought to court on trump up chargers, where is there JUSTICE. We will have to follow this case closely. Any one who was in court that day could see right though the mis truths, see you Wednesday and get there early as seats will rare. & The real truth will be told.

author by OldBlueBearpublication date Tue May 29, 2007 22:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sounds to me as if there a Very serious problems with the so called upholders or as it was put to me "enforcers" of the "law". The question is who's law? Sounds like the facist laws of McDowel now a lame duck booted for his "crimes" but not yet punished!

The verdict is NOT GUILTY for the Shell to Sea guys, while the Shell Thugs one called Gards are guilty as hell of basic human rights abuse and there is no punishment sufficent for them!!!

Need I say more wxept:
lets make it happen!

author by supporterpublication date Wed May 30, 2007 20:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

anybody know what happened today

author by At Courtpublication date Thu May 31, 2007 00:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Evidence was heard from the defendants and their witnesses today to the effect that the alleged incidents were accidental and as a result of general pushing and shoving; the Gardaí pushing to remove protestors to one side of the road and the protestors pushing back to protect themselves from being compressed.

Judge Mary Devins has reserved her judgement, to consider the evidence, until Wed 13th June when she will either a) give her judgement, or b) give another date when she will deliver her judgement.

author by MYooopublication date Mon Jun 04, 2007 02:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just a quick question if anyone can answer it i would be most delighted.

Why are you putting the Garda's shoulder numbers under each picture?

author by Just Guessingpublication date Mon Jun 04, 2007 02:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Geneva Convention?

author by worried localpublication date Tue Jun 05, 2007 19:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the protest today at the peat deposition site in bangor wont help their case,
it was very short sighted to hold such a protest while these men are awaiting a decision from the very same judge who will hear the case against todays protestors (possibly on the same day).
It would have been wiser to have posponed todays action until after their case was over.

author by irirsh cittezen - want to live in the areapublication date Sun Jul 08, 2007 03:07author address ireland is it still a what ???author phone CIA catholic irish asocaitionReport this post to the editors

Shell has always hired an a arrmy wheather it be private or mercenarys,what is in this case they have been, told that the irish garda will do whats nessary to put down the irish protesters at any cost as theyare being paid by the irish state as to wit many people are being assaulted because of what OIL, Gas, they can can assault you and for what, they were given orderds from who Joe gannon who the fuck is he, an outsider who says fuck them an who tells him to give such orders, this is such bullshit you can't even imangine. well I say fuck this !!!!!!!PEACE £££

author by JAILED!publication date Wed Jul 11, 2007 19:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The "Chief" is beginning a 3 month sentence for assault on a garda sergent http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0711/mayo.html .
His son johnathon gor 4 months!

author by bang-a-pig-a-daypublication date Sat Jul 14, 2007 16:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Not only should the sholder number of those "Guards" involved but proper "mug shots" and their station of origin and any and all biographical info. If it cannot go here get it to cryptome, to join the pictures from 2004 of the . touts, informers and spys of the "Irish spook" brigade i(ncluding Bertie!).

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