Lucia and Jim O’Farrell with their daughters outside Garda HQ in Phoenix Park last month
It was announced that the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan had appointed District Court judge Gerard Haughton to carry out a ‘scoping review’ of certain matters “surrounding the circumstances leading to” the hit-and-run death of 23-year-old Shane O’Farrell and Judge Haughton will report back in eight weeks.
However, the O’Farrell family have been campaigning for several years for not only the matters leading up to Shane’s death to be investigated but, also, for their concerns about matters which occurred after Shane’s death to also be examined.
The minister told the Government of his decision yesterday morning, while he met with members of the O’Farrell family yesterday afternoon.
The decision to have a scoping inquiry follows a 2:1 vote in the Dáil last summer for a public inquiry last June.
The family have since said the scoping inquiry falls short of the public inquiry they have been calling for.
Shane’s sister Gemma O’Farrell spoke to Audrey Carville on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning about their meeting with Minister Flanagan yesterday.
“We expressed our surprise at this new process. As you know, we’ve been engaging with various State bodies for the last seven years.
“We’ve, in my view, have exhausted all the areas, civil and criminal, statutory mechanisms available to us and, in our view a public inquiry is now what is required to get answers into Shane’s unlawful killing and what exactly happened which we feel we have not gotten, notwithstanding having gone through the criminal trial and GSOC etc.
“So we expressed that to the Minister yesterday and referred him back to the Dáil vote and asked that he would direct for a public inquiry at this point.
“However, he has decided now to introduce this new mechanism and process which is somewhat disappointing when he has the opportunity now just to direct a public inquiry so we can get to the bottom of these various questions which we are seeking at this point.”
“…Minister Flanagan is presenting this process now somewhat as a solution but it feels like another obstacle which has now been placed in our path which we now have to engage with for another period of time and incur further delay in getting to the bottom and getting answers to these questions.”
The terms of reference of Judge Haughton’s review are:
1. To review the investigations that have already taken place into the circumstances of the death of Mr O’Farrell, namely the criminal prosecution of Mr Zigimantas Gridziuska; the review by the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM); the criminal investigation by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC); and the subsequent disciplinary investigation by GSOC;
2. To review changes that have been made to the law and practice in relation to the administration of bail and bench warrants and the extent to which they have or have not addressed gaps in those systems since the death of Mr O’Farrell;
3. Based on the reviews at 1. and 2. above to advise the Minister for Justice and Equality:
If there are any remaining unanswered questions in relation to the circumstances of Mr O’Farrell’s death that should be the subject of further inquiry or investigation; and
If there are, the most appropriate manner in which they should be investigated, having regard to the statutory independence of bodies such as the courts, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.
4. If an investigation or inquiry is recommended to draft terms of reference for said investigation/inquiry;
5. To make enquiries with persons or bodies that he/she considers appropriate in relation to the review;
6. To report to the Minister for Justice and Equality within 8 weeks of commencement with an interim report indicating, inter alia, the expected timeframe for completion of the scoping exercise.
Zigimantas Gridzuiska, 39, from Lithuania, who had 42 previous convictions in three different jurisdictions and was out on bail at the time, should have been in jail when he struck Shane.
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.
Listen back to Gemma O’Farrell’s interview on Morning Ireland in full here
Pic: Conor Hunt
Previously: Shane O’Farrell on Broadsheet