Gardaí ordered to break into colleague’s locker to obtain statement, tribunal told

Gardaí ordered to break into colleague’s locker to obtain statement, tribunal told

Gardaí investigating the 2006 murder of Baiba Saulite were told to break open the station locker of a garda sergeant to get hold of a victim impact statement she had made, the Disclosures Tribunal has heard.

The statement was made by Ms Saulite at a Dublin airport hotel on November 14th, 2006 where she met Sergeant William (Liam) Hughes in the company of her solicitor, John Hennessy. It was in respect of the earlier abduction of her two children.

Five days later, on November 19th, Ms Saulite (28) was shot dead at her home in Swords, Co Dublin.

In the meantime, the hand-written statement had been in Sgt Hughes’ locker. In the wake of her shooting, Assistant Commissioner Al McHugh told gardaí in Swords to get possession of the statement, if necessary by forcing the locker open.

The incident was disclosed on Tuesday at the Disclosures Tribunal, which is investigating whether now retired Sgt Hughes was victimised after he alleged a “systems failure” within the Garda in the run-up to Ms Saulite’s murder. An Garda Síochána denies all of Sgt Hughes’ allegations.

Sgt Hughes was subsequently the subject of a two-year internal disciplinary inquiry for an alleged failure on his part “to take appropriate action on information known in respect of Ms Baiba Saulite”.

In June 2009 this was discontinued, the Tribunal heard earlier, on the orders of Asst Comm McHugh. He said Sgt Hughes was “completely exonerated…with no blemish on his character or history”.

The tribunal is examining a protected disclosure made by Sgt Hughes.

No one has been convicted of the murder of Ms Saulite. The tribunal has directed that the chief suspect may not be identified and is to be referred to in evidence only as “Mr A”.

Prior to her murder, Ms Sauilte’s children had been abducted but were eventually returned to her. Other incidents relating to Ms Saulite included an attack on her car in Malahide and an attack on the home of her solicitor.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan, who was an inspector in Coolock at the time of Ms Saulite’s killing, said the disciplinary investigation into Sgt Hughes had been correct.

“My view now is that, 1,000 per cent, there had to be an investigation,” he told counsel for Sgt Hughes, Colm O’Dwyer SC.

“If it happened today, it would have to be referred to GSOC [the independent body for investigating the force].”

Shocked and concerned

He described talking by phone to Sgt Hughes on the night of the killing. The sergeant was shocked and concerned for his own safety, said Det Supt Cryan.

On November 21st, he again spoke to Sgt Hughes who said he could not believe that the situation with Ms Saulite had come to this. Det Supt Cryan said Sgt Hughes expressed fears for his own safety and he referred him to Garda peer support and welfare services.

Det Supt Cryan told counsel for the Tribunal, Diarmaid McGuinness SC, that Sgt Hughes told him he did not want anyone from the District Detective Unit questioning him about what had happened, fearing they “would now try to blame him for not doing his job properly”.

“He was venting,” said Det Supt Cryan, “he was angry. Someone he had got to know

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