Shane Tuohey’s body was found in 2002 in the River Brosna in Clara Co Offaly following a night out with friends. The Gardai were swift to conclude that Shane had killed himself but there was a lot of evidence – pointing towards the possibility of foul play – that was not considered by the guards in a timely fashion.
The scene where his body was found was not preserved for forensic examination. No attempt was made to recover CCTV of the night he disappeared and the one tape that was secured was subsequently lost. Allegations of an assault on Shane were not investigated until six months later. Gardai produced a witness statement from a woman claiming Shane was suicidal that was later denied in its entirety by the woman.
I investigated this case first eight years ago and to my amazement got a letter from the then Garda Commissioner admitting the investigation could have been “more professional”. But they stood by that investigation and the system has turned a deaf ear on the Tuohey’s quest for justice since then.
The Tuohey family have been dogged though. Gradually securing more and more paperwork that raises more and more questions about the Gardai’s prosecution of the case, and the Department of Justice’s commitment to transparency. They recently obtained one document that I had sought eight years ago. It bears a handwritten note which reads “Not to be seen by Philip Boucher-Hayes”.
This podcast from Drivetime is a short summary of a very detailed and complex case.
One of the first actions taken by Frances Fitzgerald when she suceeded from Alan Shatter at the Department of Justice was to establish an Independent Review Mechanism into the allegations of Garda Corruption made to Government. That review will now consider 220 separate cases including some allegations involving the possibility of wrongful deaths, of cover up or failure to investigate a crime and of possible Garda brutality.
Those making the allegations were promised that they would meet with the barristers conducting the review and would be able to present their grievances, but yesterday the Department of Justice confirmed to me that the review would be a paper only review.
Several I have spoken to are worried that if they are not interviewed the Independent Review Mechanism might be given a very partial or self serving version of events. Because the Garda file is by no means the totality of evidence that should be considered.
Given their history of antagonism with the Gardai and with the Department of Justice they say they can have little faith in a Review Mechanism that doesn’t at the very least hear from them. The Minister promised them they would now be heard, but many are feeling that the system is once again finding a way to turn a deaf ear.