‘We Are Seven Years With No Answers And No Accountability’


Lucia and Jim O’Farrell with their daughters outside Garda HQ this morning; Garda Commissioner Drew Harris

This morning, at 11.30am, the family of the late Shane O’Farrell will meet with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris at Garda HQ in Phoenix Park, Dublin.

Shane was 23 and cycling home when he was killed in a hit-and-run in Carrickmacross in Co Monaghan by Zigimantus Gridziuska, from Lithuania, on August 2, 2011.

At the time of Shane’s death, Gridziuska had 42 previous convictions and he was in breach of multiple bail orders and suspended sentences.

In addition, about an hour before Shane was killed, the Garda Drugs Squad pulled over the car Gridziuska was travelling in, along with Paulius Paplauskas/Petrosas and Edgars Zelenousy, on suspicion that they had drugs in their possession.

Zelenousy was driving the car when it was pulled over. The O’Farrell family understand the gardaí asked the men to get out of the car, searched them and then got Zelenousy to switch with Gridziuska, thus resulting in Gridziuska being behind the wheel. Zelenousy had no insurance.

The car was then waved on.

Following Shane’s death, Gridziuska was arrested and the car he was driving was found concealed in bushes.

He was eventually acquitted of dangerous driving causing death.

He pleaded guilty to failing to stop, report or remain at the scene of the crash and he received an eight-month suspended sentence on February 28, 2013, on condition that he leave the country within 21 days.

Judge Pat McCartan, at the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin, gave Gridziuska the choice of serving the eight months or leaving the country and he chose the latter.

During the sentencing of Gridzisuka, Shane’s mum Lucia O’Farrell claims Judge McCartan asked if there was anything coming up in the pipeline for Gridziuska and that the State solicitor failed to notify the judge that – over the five months before Gridziuska’s trial – a file had been prepared in relation to insurance fraud charges against Gridziuska.

Ms O’Farrell repeatedly requested for this file to be compiled and completed so that it could be included in the proceedings of the case of dangerous driving causing death.

But it wasn’t.

On March 1, 2013 – one day after Gridziuska dangerous driving trial finished – the file on Gridziuska’s insurance fraud was submitted to the DPP.

Then on March 6, 2013 – just days after he was ordered to leave the State within 21 days – Gridziuska appeared in Carrickmacross District Court for insurance fraud and he was jailed for five months by Judge Sean MacBride in relation to three policies of insurance fraud, one of which covered the day on which Shane was killed.

Judge MacBride also banned him from driving for ten years.

On June 14 last, a motion was accepted in the Dail calling on the Government to establish a public inquiry into Shane’s death but such an inquiry has yet to be established.

On the same day, in the Seanad, the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan admitted:

“It is clear there are a number of troubling matters surrounding the circumstances leading up to the road traffic incident in which Shane O’Farrell’s life was cut tragically short. The GSOC report clearly identifies those matters.

“They were, in fact, failures. In the debate in the other House last Tuesday, I was emphatic that I accepted that they were failures. A man, who had numerous previous convictions, including for theft, drugs and road traffic offences, and who was on bail at the time of the incident, had also been arrested for other offences while on bail.

“We all know there are laws related to the obligations on those who obtain release on bail and there are sanctions if those bail conditions are breached. Unfortunately in this particular case those sanctions were not implemented and there was a failing.

“…The failings in the follow-up following a breach of a bail condition is unacceptable.”

Ahead of her meeting with the Garda Commissioner this morning, Lucia writes:

“Gridziuska would have been in jail if the gardai had done their basic duty, in accordance of the orders of various courts. Bail had no legal meaning for Gridziuska or the gardai. We are seven years with no answers and no accountability.”

Previously: Shane O’Farrell on Broadsheet

Pic: Conor Hunt

19 thoughts on “‘We Are Seven Years With No Answers And No Accountability’

  1. Jake38

    Bail, suspended sentence, bail, suspended sentence, bail……etc, etc. When will we wake up in this country to the fact that the criminal justice system is a farce.

    1. postmanpat

      They need to drop it ,for there own sakes. this is just wasting time going through the same legal system that allowed a danger to society to drive around freely. sorry, but nothing is going to happen. If it was me I wouldn’t let it go but I wouldn’t go through legal channels either. If the useless fuzz have there codes of silence and support by the state, then ..this family need to take a leaf out of there book. I’m talking “missing” Lithuanians, and manufactured alibis for all suspects, see how the police like that.

  2. small ads

    People riding bicycles are considered expendable. And will be until good cycling networks are built so that everyone cycles for the short journeys that are the majority of trips.

    Apart from that, you’d have to worry about how normal it must be to have over 40 convictions if the gardaí were so ho-hum about it.

    Poor people. Their son’s death and their disgraceful abandonment by the justice system should be a political question in the general election.

  3. Shayna

    Am I missing something – 42 previous convictions, on bail, pulled by The Gardaí an hour before the “incident” – continued to offend – if he’s some sort of supergrass – bravo Na Gardaí – it will surely offer a great deal of solace to The O’Farrells that the person who was responsible for the death of their son pointed the finger at whom? – except they were told nothing. It really does beggar belief. Surely, Na Gardaí have a moral issue to answer?

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      It really smacks of it, doesn’t it. On the basis of the record of the first driver, he should have been arrested, but he was swapped out by the Gardai for another banned driver. Substitutions are for hurlin’ not driving. Disgraceful treatment of the family too.

  4. Eoin

    Very sad case with the death of a promising young man with his whole life ahead of him.

    Is a public inquiry needed though for this individual case?

    I think an inquiry is needed for the management of the bail system. There have been a raft of failings.

    There appear to be a small number individual failings with the driver of the car which killed this young man. Those failings surely don’t need a public inquiry. Surely an inspector or GSOC could have examined the failings, disciplined any Garda members as necessary and made recommendations for improvements.

  5. Otis Blue

    In such circumstances, how on earth could this guy be acquitted of dangerous driving causing death?

    As it happens Banana Republic is playing in the background as I write. Still seems apt…

    “Take your hand and lead you
    Up a garden path
    Let me stand aside here
    And watch you pass
    Striking up a soldier’s song
    I know that tune
    It begs too many questions
    And answers too…”

  6. Catherine costelloe

    Jim & Lucia o Farrell , clearly devastated at the loss of their beloved only son , are to be applauded for fighting for justice. Commissioner Harris will be appalled at looking at the facts the o Farrell family will place in front of him. The hurt they feel at the disrespect , cover up, delay, deny, toothless GSOC, has only added to their desperate grief. The Justice Dept /DPP should hang their heads in shame at how this tragic family have been treated. Shame on ye!!!

  7. topsy

    This family have been on a tortuous journey for the past 8 years, simply because the gardai couldn’t be bothered to do their duty. The negligence, utter laziness, incompetence and corruption evidenced by our police force over the years is beyond comprehension. I don’t expect any cultural changes anytime soon. As for Flanagan; he’s an embarrassment to his office and the state.
    Shameful how that chaps life was wiped out in a flash and it meant nothing to the guardians of the state.

  8. :-Joe

    Ye fair play to them for sticking it out in the pursuit of justice. It must be a living nightmare holding a microscope up to a justice system that seems to be badly broken and in complete disarray.

    A deeply tragic situation for the family and a jaw-dropping insane reality of modern Ireland at the same time.

    40+ known convictions. In the 21st century, how is this even possible….and what the f… else is going on besides?!?!

    The ff/fg party and their binary choice successive beige middle managers for foreign private global finance interests… cutting the funding to the guards, is that tgoing to be bounced around the dail by the ff/fg soap opera married couple as the only excuse?..

    No, not when we are aware and it has come to our attention or the issue is obviously escalating or becoming urgent. No, we only fix the problem when it get’s really, REALLY BAAAAD !!…

    Ye, Great job folks… screw everyone but yourselves and your perks and pensions.


      1. :-Joe

        ” …The best lack all conviction, while the worst
        Are full of passionate intensity.”

        A sign of the times…..


          1. :-Joe

            Politically, in terms of real progressive leadership in general, I’m still wondering if and when we’ll ever see the first coming?…


  9. Dub Spot

    Disgusting. Shameful. Sadly, we’ve seen it all before. And will again.

    RIP to Shane. Hopefully, 2019 and a new commish of the Gardai will see some closure . . .

  10. sparkilicious

    In my experience there is a troublingly significant minority of Gardai who make it their careers to do as little as possible on the job, to the extent that it would actually be easier to just do the job in the first place… telling partners to slow up in the patrol car on the way to call-outs in the hope that there’ll be no one there on arrival… not logging when people produce DL and insurance within ten days at a GS (hence the huge portions of daily DC lists full of punters who had already produced paperwork in Garda stations)… granting station bail to lads who should be brought to the DC on the basis of their bench warrant history because, well, it’s just less work etc etc etc It’s actually hard to exaggerate what a toxic, incestuous, botty-covering, rife-with-bullying police force we’ve had in this country for a very long time now. The culture of omertà and the imperative of avoiding being labelled ‘trouble’ means the conscientious ones don’t stand a chance. This family were so badly let down by the gardai and, indeed, the wider justice system.

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