A Donegal solicitor has accused An Garda Siochana of deliberately ‘antagonising’ his client by keeping a car they seized from her last month.
Mr Rory O’Brien made an application at Falcarragh District Court under the Police Property Act for the return of the vehicle to his client in the days before Christmas.
Inspector Seamus McGonigle told Judge Éiteáin Cunningham that the vehicle was seized under a section 10 warrant.
Inspector McGonigle said the vehicle was being held in evidence and Gardai suspected that it was used in committing an arrestable offence, namely the sale or supply of drugs. He said the State was seeking a two-month adjournment in the matter.
Mr O’Brien hit out, saying that ‘Gardai can’t just take property and keep it for no reason, which is what happened here.’
“For some reason, my client has been targeted, perhaps discriminated against by the State in relation to this case,” he said.
“The only purpose is to antagonise, annoy and be generally disruptive in depriving my client of a vehicle for Christmas.
“So be it, if it was used in the commission of an offence, but what do the Gardai actually need to do? Why do they need to detain it? If it was used in the commission of an offence, so what?
“There is no lawful basis to keep the car. They have no legitimate reason.
“If drugs are found in a house, the State isn’t entitled to put someone out of the house and keep it. What are they going to do, drive the car into court as evidence?”
Mr O’Brien told Judge Cunningham that the State was not being ‘genuine’. The experienced solicitor said he had never before come across a case where a vehicle was not returned.
“There will be repercussions for the State,” he said.
The suggestions were rejected by Inspector McGonigle, who said: “That is not the case. It is part of an investigation process.”
Mr O’Brien reiterated that he stood over his remarks.
The case will be before the court again on January 18.