A garda has been cleared of any wrong doing after he was prosecuted for assault, false imprisonment and giving misleading information to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) in connection with the arrest of a Dublin Bus driver.
The decision to prosecute was made by the Director of Public Prosecutions. However, the handling of the GSOC investigation was criticised by Judge Conal Gibbons when he delivered his ruling this evening at Dublin District Court.
The court heard Garda Noel Gibbons arrested David Stamper in Dublin city centre on September 15th, 2018. Beforehand, the Dublin Bus driver had been flashing his lights at the garda for driving in a bus lane.
Garda Gibbons, based at Pearse Street station in Dublin, had been in his own car and making a turn into his station at the time. The bus had driven close to him and dazzled him, the court heard.
Mr Stamper was arrested after he refused to give his name or details when stopped and questioned under the Road Traffic Act.
Garda Gibbons, who has also appeared as a presenter on RTÉ’s Crimecall programme, faced a non-jury trial before in the district court.
Judge Conal Gibbons dismissed the charges following submissions from defence counsel Keith Spencer, instructed by solicitor Donal Quigley. His lawyers argued that there was no case to answer.
On Friday, Judge Gibbons held Garda Gibbons acted lawfully.
The judge said he did not believe Stamper’s evidence which was given earlier. He added that the bus driver failed to co-operate and had portrayed himself as a victim in a self-serving statement.
He said he had concerns over the investigation and that GSOC had not interrogated issues sufficiently.
Judge Gibbons said, “I have to say it is difficult to understand how this relatively minor incident between the garda and another road user escalated and metamorphosed into a full-blown prosecution.”
Mr Stamper had 41 years experience as a bus driver, but the court heard drove at speed and flashed the bus headlights at Garda Gibbons.
The garda then questioned the driver who refused to give his details.
Judge Gibbons said that instead of being co-operative with the garda, the bus driver went on the offensive and “maintained the righteousness of his non co-operation”.
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Mr Stamper was taken aback at the garda’s view of his driving but that did not entitle him to be non-compliant. He had rebuffed perfectly legal enquiries, the judge said.
Stamper was brought to Pearse Street station and demanded to be dealt with by a more senior officer.
He left the station because he was in a hurry and had to collect grandchildren, Judge Gibbons said, adding that he had tried to create his own rules and procedures.
He went back to his depot but was ordered by his inspector to go back to Pearse Street garda station. Judge Gibbons held that the garda’s enquiries were perfectly legal, he had the power of arrest and used minimal force.