Garda accused of harassment not guilty by reason of insanity

Central Criminal Court

A garda who harassed a married female sergeant by sending her a Valentine's Card, numerous emails and a friend request on Facebook has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

40 year old Garda Donal Maguire, a married man with two children, had been warned by his superiors not to have any contact with the woman and was advised there would be consequences if he continued the behaviour.

He had sent the emails via the garda Pulse system leading to him having his access revoked. He continued to try and contact the woman , despite giving an oral undertaking to stop his behaviour and was ultimately transferred to another garda station.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the harassment impacted on the woman's work and family life and caused her great stress. She felt physically sick, annoyed and concerned on receiving the communications from Gda Maguire.

She was granted annual leave following the Facebook contact from Gda Maguire because her superiors believed she was not in “a fit position to do her work”.

Gda Maguire of Bundoran, Co. Donegal had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to two counts of harassing the woman at a location in Dublin on dates between February 18 and March 11, 2012 and between August 1, 2012 and February 4, 2013

Yesterday, two forensic psychiatrists told the trial that Gda Maguire was suffering from a mental disorder at the time and lacked the ability to form intent, as set out under the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006.

The jury heard that Gda Maguire had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, which at his age was considered early onset dementia. The symptoms include erotomania, a delusion in which a person believes that another person, typically of a higher social status, is in love with them.

The disorder also meant that Gda Maguire was increasingly inappropriate in his actions, had a loss of empathy, was unable to understand the impact of his behaviour, has a lack of judgment and an inability to inhibit his own actions as well as a lack of interest in his personal hygiene.

The jury of nine men and three women returned its verdict following an hour of deliberations. Judge Elma Sheahan thanked the jurors for their concentration during what she was an “unusual” trial.

She said the court found that Gda Maguire was suffering from a mental disorder and committed him to the Central Mental Hospital (CMH). She ordered that the CMH provide the court with a report for June 27, next so that “the appropriate steps can be taken”.

Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, told the jury in opening the case that the fact Gda Maguire harassed the woman was not disputed but rather the jurors had to determine if he was suffering from a mental disorder at the time.

The court heard that both Gda Maguire's mother and his wife noticed a change in his behaviour from 2010, shortly after the birth of his first child, when he started making bizarre statements and laughing inappropriately.

In his first referral to have it investigated, a psychiatrist noted that Gda Maguire had disorganised thinking and unusual speech.

Detective Superintendent Walter O'Sullivan outlined the facts of the harassment to the jury.

He agreed with Ronan Kennedy BL, defending that when Gda Maguire was interviewed in June 2013, he said he was infatuated with the woman and this was not reciprocated.

He accepted that he had been warned to stop communicating with the sergeant but had continued contact despite this.

Det Supt O'Sullivan agreed with Mr Kennedy that Gda Maguire had difficulty understanding what he had been doing was wrong and that he had been causing the woman stress.

He accepted that, following the interview, both he and his colleagues had concerns for Gda Maguire's well-being.