25 May 2022

Longford garda at centre of false shot dog controversy wins High Court action over promotion delay

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A Longford Garda who was the subject of false accusations over the shooting of dog has won his High Court challenge against the Commissioner's refusal to backdate his promotion to rank of inspector

A Longford Garda who was the subject of false accusations over the shooting of dog has won his High Court challenge against the Commissioner's refusal to backdate his promotion to rank of inspector.


The action was taken by Inspector Tom Quinn against the Garda Commissioner which arose after his 2019 promotion to the rank of inspector was held up for seven months while the Garda Ombudsman, GSOC investigated what were held to be false and baseless allegations against him.

He was fully vindicated by GSOC after probed a shooting incident that occurred in December 2018,

In his judgement Mr Justice Charles Meenan ruled that the Commissioner was wrong to refuse to backdate Inspector Quinn's promotion. 

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The court said that given GSOC's findings not backdating the promotion would "wrongly penalise" the inspector over what amounted to be false accusations against him.

When the matter was before the High Court on Monday Mr Justice Meenan said he was making orders in favour of the inspector including one quashing the refusal to backdate the promotion and directed that the Inspector's legal costs be paid by the Commissioner. 

He was due to attain the rank of Inspector in January 2019.

Due to the investigation his promotion was held up until late August 2019 after GSOC's probe had concluded. 
The Inspector applied to have his promotion backdated to January 2019.

He claimed that the delay had pension, pay, seniority, reputational and future promotion implications for him. 

The Commissioner, however, refused his application.

As a result, the Inspector, who is stationed in Mullingar Co Westmeath brought judicial review proceedings aimed at having the Commissioner's refusal to backdate his promotion quashed.

Represented by Paul McGarry SC, with John Berry Bl instructed by Sean Costello solicitors, also claimed that the failure to backdate it beaches natural and constitutional justice.

The Commissioner opposed the action and rejected his claims that the refusal breached the Inspector's rights or impugned his good name.

In his judgement Mr Justice Meenan said that when serving in the Roscommon-Longford Division in December 2018 the Inspector, who at that time held the rank of Sergeant, attended at a property at Ferriskill near Granard in Co Longford, with a civilian.

The Inspector claimed that that the property owner Mr Edward Stokes attacked him with a slash hook and attacked the civilian.

It was also alleged that Mr Stokes goaded a Belgian Shephard Malinos dog to attack the Inspector.

The Inspector, who warned the property owner that he was armed, drew his weapon.

Fearing for his own safety after the dog came at him, the Inspector fired one shot, wounding the animal.

A ricochet from that shot caused a minor injury to the property's owner's leg.

Mr Stokes made a complaint to GSOC, and strongly rejected the inspectors account of what happened.

The incident was recorded on a mobile phone, and extracts that suited the complainant's allegations were posted on social media resulting in the inspector being the subject of intense abuse online.

Mr Stokes had also complained to GSOC that the Inspector made some remarks, and laughed at him, when they met each other at a shop some months later.

GSOC, in dismissing all the complaints, determined that Inspector Quinn had discharged his firearm in a lawful and justified manner.

The inspector went through the promotion process and was informed he was successful. 

He expected that he would be promoted along with the other successful candidates to the rank of inspector when the results of that process were published in January 2019.

It was accepted by the Inspector that the complaints against him had to be investigated.

Mr Justice Meenan said it was very clear that the reason why the applicant was not promoted in early 2019 was because of Mr Stokes' complaint.

It was reasonable, the Judge said, that the proposed promotion of any Garda who is the subject of a complaint should not proceed until the truth of the matter is ascertained.

Mr Stoke' complaint to GSOC was deemed false. but Inspector Quinn faced a penalty in terms of loss of salary, and general loss of standing because his promotion was delayed for seven months.

Mr Justice Meenan said the commissioner's refusal to backdate the promotion was unreasonable and flew in the face of fundamental reason and common sense.

Inspector Quinn the judge said had a Constitutional right to equality.

If that right is to mean anything, the Judge said, then the inspector must be put in a position that he would have been had the false complaint not being made.

This can be achieved, the judge said by backdating the promotion to the date in which it should originally have taken effect.
No rational reason he said had been identified by the Commissioner as to why the backdating cannot take place, he said.

The judge accepted that this would result in the applicant being renumerated as an inspector while he was Sergeant.

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The judge said he was of the view that it would be "a greater wrong to penalise the applicant for being the subject of a false complaint. "

The judge added that if the inspector's promotion had not been backdated it would have the perverse effect that the date of Inspector's promotion would not have been determined by legislation, the Garda Disciplinary Code or the Commissioner but rather by Mr Stokes.

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