Archive | January, 2008

England: PeopleSmuggling Ring Smashed By Police Raids

31 Jan

England: People Smuggling Ring

Smashed By Police Raids

By J. P. Anderson

Thirteen people have been arrested as police smashed a people-smuggling ring during raids across England.

Eleven addresses were raided in London and Kidderminster, Worcestershire, during Operation Greensea targeting the gang which is suspected of bringing potentially hundreds of illegal migrants into the UK.

The majority of suspects are believed to belong to a gang of Turkish people-smugglers who specialise in trafficking Chinese nationals.

Senior officers said suspected traffickers from every rung of the criminal ladder were among those arrested, including two "Mr Bigs".

Police said some of the properties at the centre of the raids were home to up to 30 illegal migrant workers. It follows similar raids by police in Belgium and France over the past few weeks.

The operation followed 12 months of surveillance and information gathering, led by Scotland Yard’s serious and organised crime unit.

Senior officers said the Turkish gang is responsible for the final leg of a journey that could take the Chinese migrants up to 18 months to complete.

Each person would pay up to £21,000 to be brought across Asia into Western Europe and eventually Britain, netting the traffickers huge sums.

Most of migrants come from Fujian province in south east China where there is a culture of sending people overseas to earn money for their family.

The journey takes many months because the migrants are often forced to wait at safe houses en route as the next stage of their journey is organised.

Detective Superintendent Steve Richardson, of Scotland Yard, said: "The scope to make substantial sums of money is definitely there in this criminal network as there is with drugs.

"Somebody can make a very reasonable living if they have their routes set up and their network in place. We have today dismantled two organised criminal networks involved in what is suspected to be large-scale human smuggling into the UK.

"We are committed to taking out these networks and this operation is the latest in our collaboration with a growing number of law enforcement agencies in Europe and the UK to work robustly to achieve this mission."


Gangbusters: Garda Organised Crime Unit Will Target Gangs

31 Jan

Garda Gangbusters: Organised

Crime Unit Will Target Gangs

By J. P. Anderson

Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy has announced the establishment of a fulltime specialist unit to tackle gang-related crime.

The Organised Crime Unit will have over 70 full time officers led by a superintendent.

It will be a dedicated but flexible unit in that it will target serious gangs and their criminal activity, whether that be drug trafficking, gun crime or cash in transit robberies.

Commissioner Murphy said that while there was a drop in gang-related crime last year, he was still concerned about the number of murders and the increase in shootings.

Mr Murphy said the unit would be ‘in the criminals faces’ and targeting their activities within the law.

He also said that the investigation into the murder of Veronica Guerin was still open.

Refusing to comment on John Gilligan’s statement to the High Court earlier this week, he said that gardaí would talk to anyone with information in relation to that murder, including John Gilligan.

Primary Schools Expel Disturbed Children

31 Jan

Primary Schools Expel Disturbed Children

By J. P. Anderson

SCHOOLS are being forced to expel disruptive children as the only way to help them access proper support services, a primary principals’ leader has revealed.

The drastic measure highlights the frustration of primary school principals over inadequate resources to deal with the growing emotional and behavioural problems among pupils. Ahead of their annual conference which begins today, Irish Primary Principals Network president Larry Fleming said these needs can not be met because of waiting lists or children falling between health services and special education supports.

He referred to a school where the principal had trouble getting help for a boy with violent behaviour.
“They have excluded the child from school because it is the only way the other children can be protected and proper support services will be put in place for the child and his family.
“As long as he is in school the health services say the school needs to deal with the problem and the Department of Education says, because a child’s needs are not strictly learning needs, no extra resources are available,” said Mr Fleming.
He said this is typical of the situation in which children with emotional issues, violent or bullying behaviour do not fit into any category covered by the department’s special needs regulations. A survey of about 800 principals found nine-out-of-10 have seen an increase in emotional disturbance and attention disorders among pupils, while half believe more pupils are depressed or behaving violently.
“If a child’s problems do not fit under the heading of learning difficulties, the school is told that nothing can be done and the health services should be called. Then you’re into waiting lists and day-to-day, meanwhile the teacher and the school may have to cope with violent, threatening and bullying behaviour,” said Mr Fleming.
He said children and their needs do not always fit into the restricted categories laid down by the department, even though the model works very well for children with diagnosed learning needs that fit into the established categories. “We also have to think of the other children who might be seriously affected by the problems of one child,” he said.
“We need to be able to call on appropriate help and support directly, no matter where that help comes from — be it play therapy, behaviour management, counselling, psychiatric services or more serious interventions,” said Mr Fleming.
The Department of Education is spending about €900 million on supports for students with special needs this year, ranging from resource teaching for those with common learning difficulties to the high-support needs of children with autism or severe behavioural disorders.

Manhunt After Vicious Rapist Strikes In Tallaght

30 Jan

Manhunt after Vicious Rapist Strikes in Tallaght

By J. P. Anderson

A 17 year old Dublin teenager was viciously attacked from behind and dragged into bushes before being raped by her attacker. The attack occurred at the Square Shopping complex at Tallaght County Dublin just minutes after the teenager became separated from her friends after being denied entry into a local nightclub, because she had no identification and that situation left her searching for a taxi home.

The teenager has been left traumatised and physically sickened by the assault which occurs during the early hours of last Sunday morning.

The attacker dragged the girl through bushes resulting in her being scratched and cut. (The attacker must also have been cut and scratched during this attack in Tallaght).

This method of attack is similar to the attacks carried out in Athlone Town. County Westmeath on four women.

The Attacker in Athlone also grabbed his victims from behind and dragged them through bushes – some of his victims were thrown across a 4-foot high wall after being dragged across a busy road at the Bonavalley railway bridge in the town.

Also during the summer a similar attack occurred in Devon in England when a young woman out horse-riding on a beach was attacked and dragged from her mount, but the girl fought off her attacker, who escaped and it was later discovered that the attacker seemed to be sleeping rough in a car in the locality before the attack on the young woman.

In the case of the Athlone rapist, the attacker was described as tall and possibly of Eastern European origin.

The description given for the Tallaght rapist is tall, white, (mature) perhaps in his 30’s and apart from scratches on his hands and arms he may have scratches on his neck left as his victim tried to escape from him. The young victim said today that she will “never forget the smell of the man” who grabbed her from behind, putting his hand over her mouth before dragging her to the ground.

Information please to Tallaght Gardai or any Garda station.

See Photo Album Files for Photofit of the Athlone Rapist.


Action Needed To Combat Violent Crime

29 Jan

Criminals Resorting To Extreme Violence

Calls for Action to Combat Violent Crime

By J. P. Anderson

FAMILIES of homicide victims have criticised the Government for not doing enough to combat the alarming rise in murders and violent crime.
The comments from Advic come as crime figures show a 25% rise in homicides in 2007 and a 66% jump in attempted murders and threats of murder.
Rape support groups rejected figures showing a fall in reported sexual offences and said this did not reflect the situation on the ground.
The Headline Crime Statistics 2007, published by the Central Statistics Office, shows a rise in gun crime, drug trafficking, fraud and a sharp jump in child neglect cases. It reports a drop in robberies and burglaries.

The number of homicides rose from 67 to 84, while the number of attempted murders or threat of murder jumped from 103 to 166.
“Obviously we’re very disappointed the number of homicides is increasing so dramatically,” said Joan Dean of Advic. “The fact is people have become more violent, that’s something we need to deal with as a society. It seems people no longer have problem-solving skills and they resort to extreme violence to resolve anything.”
Ms Dean said the Government was not doing enough. “I don’t see any great effort to deal with the rise in homicides and they are certainly not putting any effort into alleviating the situation of victims and there is a lot they can do.”
She said Advic had been seeking a meeting with Justice Minister Brian Lenihan since the last election, but without success.
Rape support groups questioned the 10% fall in reported sexual offences.
“We’re disappointed the overall number is down 10% because that doesn’t reflect what we are hearing on the ground,” said Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop, chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.
She said research showed only one in 10 victims reported a rape and that part of the reason was how the justice system treated victims.
Fergus Hogan, co-ordinator of the centre for social and family research in WIT, described the rise in child abuse cases — from 195 in 2004 to 566 in 2007 — as “staggering”.

JUDGES should be given discretionary powers to decide how long convicted murderers should spend in prison, under one of the main recommendations contained in a report by the Law Reform Commission.
The report comes down in favour of the abolition of existing mandatory life sentences for persons found guilty of murder, in a recommendation that is likely to spark widespread public debate. Over the past decade, the average “life” sentence served by murderers has been 13½ years.
The LRC has also called on the Government to legislate for a new criminal offence of “assault causing death” to reflect incidents regarded as less serious than manslaughter that still result in a death.

Legal sources have indicated that Cork student Wayne O’Donoghue, who was responsible for the unlawful killing of his young neighbour Robert Holohan, might have faced a charge of “assault causing death” rather than manslaughter if such legislation was already in place.
Both recommendations, which are certain to prove politically sensitive, are contained in the LRC’s Report on Homicide: Murder and Involuntary Manslaughter to be published today.
LRC spokesman Professor Finbarr McAuley said there was widespread concern within the legal profession that there were gaps in the criminal justice system that failed adequately to reflect cases “where a single punch could accidentally result in a death”.
“The commission believes that the most problematic aspect of manslaughter [by an unlawful and dangerous act] is that it punishes very severely those who deliberately engage in low levels of violence,” states the report.
In a separate recommendation, the LRC urges the Government to maintain the legal distinction between murder and manslaughter in order to mark society’s revulsion of the most brutal and violent types of killings.
Calls for the creation of a single offence of unlawful homicide have been voiced by a number of high-profile legal professionals, including top criminal trial judge Mr Justice Paul Carney and criminal law expert Ivana Bacik. They have argued that the creation of a single offence relating to a violent death would result in an increase in the number of guilty pleas.
However, the LRC opposed the measure as it would mean there would no longer be a differentiation between particularly violent killings and accidental or unintentional deaths. It also pointed out that the main difficulties with the distinction between murder and manslaughter could be overcome through the abolition of mandatory life sentences.
The LRC argues the notion of mandatory life sentences is already “illusory” as the Minister for Justice ultimately decides on the length of sentence served by a convicted murderer.
ADVIC, a group supporting relatives of homicide victims, gave a guarded welcome to the proposed abolition of mandatory life terms as they were already “meaningless”. A spokesperson said it would oppose the introduction of a lesser form of manslaughter charge.

Proposal to remove mandatory life term will get heated response
IF CRIME and the operation of the criminal justice system was not already a topic high on the public agenda, it certainly should be over the next few days.
Later today, the Law Reform Commission will turn up the heat on the debate about crime by publishing a report containing a number of controversial recommendations.
Most likely to arouse a certain degree of ire is the LRC’s proposal to abolish the mandatory life sentence for persons convicted of murder — a legal standard common to many countries in the developed world.
The commission’s recommendation would see judges being given discretionary powers to decide how long a convicted murdered should spend behind bars.
While the LRC acknowledges that there are strong arguments for and against a mandatory life sentence for murder, it came down in favour of change on the basis that the notion of a life sentence is “illusory”.
In reality, most convicted murderers have their sentence reviewed by the Parole Board after seven years and subsequently every three years. The Minister for Justice retains ultimate control over the release of such prisoners and can accept or reject the recommendations of the board.
An analysis of murder convictions from 1996 to 2006 reveals the average “life” term of imprisonment is thirteen-and-a-half years.
“The discretionary power of judges is an inherent part of many trials as it allows them to reflect the fact that all cases differ. It is a cornerstone of the criminal justice system. However, mandatory sentencing ensures that all murders are treated in the one uniform category in terms of moral wickedness,” explains LRC spokesman and UCD law lecturer, Prof Finbarr McAuley.
He added: “It makes no distinction between a fight between two loved ones which results in a death at one end of the scale and a contract killing at the other extreme.”
However, the LRC is on less certain ground with its assertion that the abolition of mandatory life sentences for murder “would not necessarily be a blow to public confidence in the criminal justice system”.
Victim support groups have frequently expressed concern about lenient sentences handed down in serious, non-murder cases.
In a separate move, the commission has proposed introducing a new criminal offence of “assault causing death” in recognition that there are various degrees of involuntary manslaughter.
The main rationale behind this proposal is a concern that cases where “low levels of deliberate violence” result in a death should not lead to a prosecution for manslaughter.
“In many ‘single-punch’ type cases, there would be no prosecution for assault had a fatality not occurred,” explains Prof McAuley.
The suggestion that the new offence of “assault causing death” might strike a balance between the gravity of a manslaughter conviction and the traumatic effect for the families of victims if their killer was only charged and convicted of an assault is unlikely to receive popular support.
Either way, either this proposed offence or calls for the abolition of mandatory life sentences are likely to be endorsed by politicians conscious of public anger. If any further proof was needed of the realpolitik of the situation, a similar recommendation on mandatory life sentences by the LRC from 1996 has remained intact on a dusty shelf over the past 12 years.

Cloverhill Prison: Ireland’s Busiest Acute Psychiatric Unit

29 Jan

Department Was Warned Of Flaw in Law on Releases

By J. P. Anderson

“There’s an area in Cloverhill prison which is widely regarded as the busiest acute psychiatric unit in Ireland,”

“About 90 ways of making this work better were tabled at the time, none of which were accepted by the minister,”

THE Department of Justice was warned in advance about problems with laws introduced in 2006 that have led to people being detained in the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) in Dublin, even though they have been deemed medically suitable for release.
Management at the hospital said 90 amendments were proposed to the Criminal Justice Insanity Act 2006, which deals with people who have broken the law and are mentally ill.
Twelve people suitable for release are being kept in the hospital because of a flaw in the law. Two of these will have their cases heard in the High Court today, where they are seeking a judicial review of a decision to keep them in the Dundrum hospital
Professor Harry Kennedy, director of the CMH, said the hospital wrote to the department to warn of the problems before the legislation was enacted, and a number of submissions were made in the Oireachtas that were not accepted by the then Justice Minister, Michael McDowell.
“About 90 ways of making this work better were tabled at the time, none of which were accepted by the minister,” said Prof Kennedy.
In response, the department said the CMH was consulted before the legislation was passed.
“As usual with any bill, various amendments are put forward for consideration and are accepted or rejected by the houses of the Oireachtas as they see fit,” a statement said.
The department added that it will shortly be bringing forward proposals to the Government to amend the law.
Prof Kennedy said a shortage of beds in the CMH means there are a number of mentally ill people being detained in prisons who are “too ill” to be there.
“There’s an area in Cloverhill prison which is widely regarded as the busiest acute psychiatric unit in Ireland,” he said.
One man who was detained in a Garda cell for a week because there was no place for him in the CMH has taken his case to the High Court where he is to sue the state for a breach of his human rights.
Prof Kennedy said: “There are forms of mental illness described in Victorian textbooks that are very rarely seen in modern practice, except nowadays in forensic practice because we uniquely find people who have had no treatment at all for a long period of time,” he said.
Prof Kennedy gave the example of extreme psychic disturbance, Catatonia, which “is something most people learn from textbooks. We actually see it.”
He said the current flaw in the law means people in need of beds cannot access them.
“If we have long-term people in the limited number of beds we have, then those beds are not available to other people that might better need the beds. So being able to move people on when it is right and safe to do so obviously would make the system work a lot better,” he said.
Meanwhile, new figures show that 329 people with intellectual disabilities are being inappropriately accommodated in psychiatric hospitals, even though they do not have a mental illness.
This is despite a government commitment in its mental health policy document A Vision for Change to end this practice by 2006 and place those with intellectual disabilities in more suitable, community-based and modern services.

A DISTURBED Nigerian man, whose detention in a Garda station was ruled illegal by the High Court last Friday, was remanded to Limerick prison yesterday following an assault in a hotel on Sunday.
John Ughamadu, 25, was provided with accommodation by the State at the Quality Hotel in Limerick after Mr Justice John Edwards ordered his release last Friday.
He said Mr Ughamadu, who was held at Roxboro Road Garda Station for a week following his arrest in a Limerick church where he was found naked in a Christmas crib, was not in legal custody.

When repeated efforts to get him a place in the Central Mental Hospital failed, solicitor Ted McCarthy brought an application to the High Court with Isabel Kennedy, SC, under section 40 of the constitution.
Mr Justice Edwards, ordering the release of Mr Ughamadu, invited his lawyers to sue the State, saying he may be entitled to damages for breaches of his rights under the European Court of Human Rights.
Limerick District Court was told that an emergency housing officer with Limerick City Council had arranged for Mr Ughamadu to be accommodated in the Quality Hotel until tomorrow.
Inspector Seamus Nolan said an incident occurred at the hotel on Sunday afternoon after Mr Ughamadu was requested to leave and a staff member was assaulted.
The court was told he was arrested for an alleged assault and an alleged breach of the Public Order Act. A remand in custody was sought by the State.
Remanding Mr Ughamadu in custody to tomorrow’s court, Judge Tom O’Donnell asked that the director of the Central Mental Hospital, Dr Harry Kennedy, be present along with the HSE director of mental services in Limerick.

Abuse Of The Elderly 1,000 Complaints

28 Jan

Abuse of the Elderly Complaints Reach 1,000

By J. P. Anderson

ALMOST 1,000 cases of alleged abuse of elderly people were referred to the HSE’s elder abuse services last year, figures have revealed.
The statistics, the first to be compiled since the HSE appointed elder abuse officers to check on cases throughout the country, also reveal that in 92% of cases there was a family relationship between the alleged abuser and the older person. Alarmingly, one in five cases alleged physical abuse.
The HSE figures show that in 2007, 927 cases were referred to the elder abuse services, which comprise 26 dedicated staff. The initial research indicates that:
88% of clients are living at home, with another 2% living in the homes of relatives.
4% are in public continuing care facilities.
3% are in private nursing homes.
2% are in other places.
The figures also reveal that the main sources of referral are community healthcare staff in 38% of cases, while 16% of cases are referred by family and 14% by other HSE staff. The Garda Síochána was consulted in about 100 cases last year.
As for the nature of the alleged abuse, the initial HSE research indicates that in 29% of cases it took the form of psychological abuse, including forms of emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, intimidation, verbal abuse or isolation.
In another 20% of cases the alleged abuse relates to financial matters, such as theft, fraud, exploitation and pressure in connection with wills, while another 20% of cases involve allegations of physical abuse.
Other forms of alleged abuse in cases investigated by the HSE include discriminatory abuse, neglect and acts of omission, and sexual abuse.
Age Action’s head of advocacy and communications Eamon Timmins said there was “a huge lack of awareness” of elder abuse, but the scale of the problem “would not come as a surprise” to those working in the elderly support sector.
“The state’s policy going back to the late ’60s is to let people live independently in their own homes but, if you look at what they [the Government] are doing in policy terms, it does not stand up,” Mr said Timmins.
A further six officers will join the 26 existing elder abuse officers in the coming weeks, as part of the implementation of recommendations made in 2002 in a working group report on elder abuse.
A national steering group on elder abuse, in addition to the elder abuse steering committees at HSE Area level, has been established to oversee the provision of elder abuse services by the HSE in relation to the detection, reporting and response to cases of alleged abuse.