By J. P. Anderson:
The Kieran Boylan File:
THE Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) is conducting preliminary inquiries into alleged links between a convicted drug dealer and individual gardaí.
Depending on the results of these inquiries, the high-powered Garda watchdog will decide whether or not to set up a full “public interest” inquiry.
This followed the collapse last July of a case against convicted Louth drug dealer, Kieran Boylan, who was charged with trafficking heroin and cocaine worth €1.7 million in 2005.
It has been claimed that the case may have been withdrawn in order to avoid Boylan revealing details of his alleged involvement with individual gardaí.
It was the second time charges had been brought against Boylan in relation to the matter, and the second time they had been withdrawn. The 37-year-old was sentenced to five years in December 2005 for a separate drugs haul in Dublin Port in 2003.
It is understood that GSOC is examining the matter and checking in some detail the basic facts and information about the wider case, as far as it can.
It is thought investigators have contacted the courts service to find out what occurred. Investigators may also make contact with a Garda Assistant Commissioner who is conducting an internal Garda inquiry about aspects of the case.
GSOC has received a number of submissions from political representatives, including Louth Sinn Féin TD Arthur Morgan, calling for a public interest inquiry.
The Garda Síochána Act 2005 allows the commission to set up an investigation “in the public interest” without having received a complaint regarding Garda conduct.
It has set up only one such investigation — into the death of Terence Wheelock in Garda custody in September 2005.
The commission is currently investigating a specific complaint from a Louth couple regarding a garda and Boylan.
A GSOC spokesman said: “We have not opened a public interest investigation into this matter at the present time. The matter is under consideration.”
Kieran Boylan fidgeted nervously as he took possession of a drug shipment in the yard of his trucking firm in Ardee, Co Louth. It was October 6, 2005, and members of the Garda National Drugs Unit (GNDU) watched from a safe distance as the truck driver went about his business. Minutes later, Boylan was caught with heroin and cocaine worth €1.7m.
The size of the haul should have guaranteed a prison sentence of at least 10 years as Boylan was out on bail at the time. In December 2003, the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) had mounted a similar operation at Dublin Port which caught him with heroin and cocaine worth €750,000.
Boylan was freed on bail despite having a previous drug trafficking conviction.
Last week, following two years of allegations and counter-allegations about his relationship with members of a garda unit, charges against Boylan over the Ardee drugs seizure were dropped.
The decision has raised more unanswered questions about his relationship with gardai.
It was shortly after Boylan’s arrest in 2005 that what seemed like a routine drugs seizure became complicated.
While he was in custody, Boylan claimed he was working for other gardai.
He admitted to possessing the €1.7m haul but claimed the other gardai knew he had the drugs and alluded to his involvement in extra-judicial operations.
After Boylan was charged, and committed to prison, Cormac Gordon, the then chief superintendent of the GNDU, wrote to Martin Callinan, an assistant commissioner in charge of operations, to clarify whether or not Boylan was an agent involved in a controlled delivery.
Weeks later, on December 2, Callinan confirmed in writing that Boylan was “not a registered source”.
He added that a senior officer would examine the issues surrounding the case.
This made sense to Gordon.
Boylan would not have been considered suitable for use as an informer or a covert human intelligence source as he was actively involved in criminal activities.
The use of informers in the detection of gangland crime is governed by guidelines put in place after a corruption scandal in Donegal.
These are designed to ensure that criminal informants are not permitted by gardai to instigate or commit crimes.
Garda headquarters and customs were unaware of any controlled delivery of drugs into the state.
If Boylan had been participating in an undercover garda operation, the GNDU, customs and the Garda management would have known.
In December 2005, Boylan pleaded guilty to importing the drugs seized at the Dublin docklands in 2003.
In February 2006, he was given five years in prison, two of them suspended.
According to sources with knowledge of the case, it was from this point onwards that allegations of Garda malpactice, collusion in drug trafficking and police management failures began to surface.
The prosecution case against Boylan over the Ardee raid progressed until June 2006, when the charges were struck out.
The GNDU’s request to have the charges reinstated went unanswered for almost a year.
The story was reported in The Sunday Times in February 2007, after which the issue was raised by opposition politicians in the Dail.
Michael McDowell, the then justice minister, refused to comment on the case but asked the Garda management for a full explanation.
Two months later, Boylan was re-charged.
It was at this point Boylan said that he would reveal details of his “relationship” with gardai if his trial proceeded.
In the months that followed, it emerged that Boylan had acted as a “rogue agent” for a small group of gardai who used him to advance their own careers.
*(August 2006: A Co Louth woman claims her life was threatened by Boylan after she gave gardai information on the location of a drugs haul.
An intruder later breaks into her home and threatens to murder her if she makes a statement.
The woman was later threatened by ‘an intruder’ who broke into her home after she revealed her story to a journalist.
She believes that rogue gardai orchestrated the attack.)*
Since details of the scandal first began to emerge in 2007 the Garda press office has adopted a policy of issuing denials.
In correspondence with this newspaper last December, the Garda press office officially denied that the GSOC had begun an investigation into
Boylan and his links with gardai, even though senior gardai had offered security advice to the couple he had threatened.
“I am to advise that An Garda Siochana have not received any complaint concerning collusion by gardai with criminal elements, as suggested by you. Neither is An Garda Siochana aware of any such investigation being undertaken by the GSOC,” wrote Kevin Donohue, the Garda spokesman.
Last week, after the charges against Boylan were dropped, the Garda press office was forced to refer to the GSOC inquiry in order to explain its refusal to comment on the case, thereby contradicting its previous statements.
“Queries regarding Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission investigations should be directed to the GSOC itself.
In these circumstances, we don’t propose to make any further comment,” it said.
Boylan is caught with heroin and cocaine worth €750,000 at Dublin Port. He is charged and released on bail.
October 2005: The Garda National Drugs Unit (GNDU) catch Boylan with heroin and cocaine worth €1.7m in Ardee, Co Louth.
Boylan claims other gardai knew he had the drugs and alludes to his involvement in entrapment operations.
Boylan stands trial for the docklands haul and is sentenced to five years in prison, two of them suspended.
June 2006: Charges relating to the seizure of drugs in Co Louth are struck out.
This follows representations to the DPP by senior gardai.
*A Co Louth woman claims her life was threatened by Boylan after she gave gardai information on the location of a drugs haul. An intruder later breaks into her home and threatens to murder her if she makes a statement.
February 2007: The Sunday Times publishes details of an alleged conspiracy that prompts opposition TDs to raise the case in the Dail.
An internal Garda inquiry recommends re-charging Boyle with the Co Louth haul.
April 2007: Boylan is re-charged with the Co Louth haul.
December 2007: Boylan is freed after completing his sentence or the Docklands haul. The garda ombudsman begins an investigation after the Co Louth woman threatened by Boylan lodges a formal complaint.
The Sunday Times publishes a report alleging that a garda has admitted to a senior officer that he took part in entrapment operations involving Boylan. Michael McCarthy, an assistant commissioner, is asked to investigate the Co Louth drugs haul.
July 31: The DPP enters a “nolle prosequi” although a date for Boylan’s trial had been set for January. Opposition TDs call on GSOC to launch a full inquiry into the affair on public interest grounds.
A convicted drug dealer caught in possession of heroin and cocaine valued at €1.7m, had charges against him withdrawn in an unscheduled court hearing last week after he threatened to reveal details of his involvement with members of the gardai.
Dealings between Kieran Boylan and members of the force are the subject of internal investigations by garda and the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) which could ultimately prove more damaging than the inquiry into malpractice in Co Donegal that led to the Morris tribunal.
Boylan, a 37-year-old criminal from Ardee in Co Louth, is alleged to have used his relationship with a number of gardai from a different arm of the force to evade justice.
He has claimed to have participated in a number of entrapment-style operations where gardai delivered drugs he supplied to petty criminals who were later arrested.
The director of public prosecutions (DPP) withdrew all charges against Boylan last Thursday, just hours before the courts closed for the summer. A barrister for the DPP said the decision had been made at a high level but offered no further explanation.
Boylan was present in the Four Courts but did not enter the courtroom.
The DPP had been advised that Boylan believed he was working for gardai at the time of his arrest in connection with the €1.7m haul in 2005. Internal garda files, however, confirm that he was not “a registered source.”
Fine Gael, the Labour party and Sinn Fein are now calling on the GSOC to launch a “public interest” inquiry.
Fachtna Murphy, the garda commissioner, and Martin Callinan, his deputy, have refused to offer any comment on the case.
Boylan was arrested at a trucker’s yard in Ardee Co Louth by the Garda National Drugs Unit (GNDU) in October 2005 as part of an operation codenamed Sword.
While in custody, he admitted possession of the drugs haul but told arresting gardai that he was working for the force and alluded to his involvement in extra-judicial operations.
At the time Boylan was out on bail facing other charges relating to an earlier drugs haul in which €750,000 worth of drugs were seized at Dublin Port in December 2003 in an operation led by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI).
Boylan stood trial for the docklands haul in December 2005, a few weeks after the GNDU arrested him in Co Louth and was sentenced to five years, with two of them suspended.
The charges relating to the Co Louth seizure were later struck out. But they were re-entered after opposition TDs raised the case in the Dail following an article published in The Sunday Times.
Boylan is the focus of various inquiries into allegations of corruption and malpractice.
The garda ombudsman launched an investigation last December following a complaint by a couple in Co Louth who claimed their lives were threatened in July 2004 after they tipped off gardai about a drugs find Boylan organised.
The couple claim they were threatened by Boylan, who said he knew they had called gardai. An intruder later broke into the couple’s home and threatened to kill a woman after she told her story to a journalist.
Michael McCarthy, an assistant garda commissioner, was appointed to oversee an internal inquiry into the “circumstances” surrounding the drugs seizure in Co Louth last month after revelations about the affair in The Sunday Times.
The newspaper reported that an officer implicated in the affair had confessed to a superior that he was involved in entrapment-style operations involving Boylan. Another garda investigation is underway into contacts between Boylan and gardai on mobile phones smuggled into Arbour Hill Prison in Dublin where Boylan served his sentence for the Dublin Port seizure.
It is an offence for inmates to use mobiles but garda headquarters are satisfied Boylan was in regular contact with officers in prison. Kevin Ludlow, a chief superintendent from Cork, has also investigated Boylan’s status with detectives.
Garda headquarters refused to confirm the existence of the internal investigations. Charlie Flanagan, the Fine Gael Justice spokesman, said: “The garda ombudsman needs to upgrade its investigation into a public interest inquiry as a matter of urgency. There are issues in this case which on the face of it, are most disturbing.
The manner in which the charges were dropped further underscores the need for the GSOC to expand its investigation.
To drop a case on the last day before the courts break for the summer, and while the Dail is in recess, says it all,” he added. Joe Costello, a Labour party TD and campaigner against drugs, described the case as “beyond comprehension”.
“The Labour party is of the view that GSOC must establish a public interest investigation, as it will help restore public confidence,” he said. Arthur Morgan, a Sinn Fein TD from Co Louth, said his constituents were concerned about Boylan’s apparent immunity from prosecution. “We have a situation where gardai are rightly calling for co-operation from the public to combat drugs, yet on the other hand, here we have a case against a self-admitted drug dealer caught red-handed being dropped,” he said.
A spokesman for the garda ombudsman said it was a matter of record that GSOC was investigating a complaint on Boylan. “If Oireachtas spokespersons ask that the Commission should launch a separate inquiry in the public interest, any such request will be taken seriously and fully considered,” the GSOC spokesman added. A garda spokesman had no comment other than that Murphy and his deputy have always acted to the highest ethical and professional standards and in the public interest.