Deaths in Garda Custody

Date:

Terence Wheelock’s death is by no means extraordinary, in that his death was one twenty two deaths reported in Garda Custody since 1997. Of these figures, a majority of those who died are under the age of thirty, and, in the case of Brian Rossiter, the victim was just fourteen years old.June 9th last saw 500 people march on Store Street Garda station to demand justice for Terence Wheelock on the second anniversary of his death. Terence, a twenty-year-old man from Dublin’s north inner- city, fell into a coma after sustaining injuries in Store Street Station in June 2005 and subsequently died in September of that year.

Gardai claim Terence took his own life, but evidence gathered independently by the Wheelock family points toward something much more sinister than that. What they have proven is that Terence was forced to endure gross brutality at the hands of the people who are supposed to “protect and to serve” us.

The reality of the situation- that Terence’s only offence was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the fact that the Gardai responsible have so far evaded any form of punishment for their crime further proves that their purpose has always been to protect private property rather than the civil rights of those they are paid to serve. Getting away with murder has become one of the things they have become very good at.

Terence’s death, while astonishing in the sheer brutality of the facts, is by no means extraordinary, in that his death was one twenty two deaths reported in Garda Custody since 1997. Of these figures, a majority of those who died are under the age of thirty, and, in the case of Brian Rossiter, the victim was just fourteen years old.

Also disquieting is the fact that several of the deaths took place in Store Street Garda station. This cannot be a coincidence. Death by hanging counted for a large number of the deaths, though in several cases, including in that of Terence, suicide has proved to be almost impossible.

Brian Rossiter was found unconscious in a cell in Clonmel Garda Station following his arrest in Clonmel town on 10 September 2002. He entered the station in good health, left in a coma and died a few days later.

Gardai told Brian’s father, that he had overdosed on alcohol and ecstasy tablets. Later toxicology reports showed no traces of either substance. The statutory inquiry has always been strongly criticised by the Rossiter family for trying to narrow its scope, thus avoiding vital questions.

Avoiding vital questions is what the Garda do best. In the Rossiter case, Garda blatantly lied to the family of the victim. If, as the Gardai state, Brian was heavily intoxicated, why was there not a medic present to provide him with a necessary check? The boy was just fourteen years of age. Why, in the case of Terence Wheelock, have the Gardai continually tried to dismiss feasible evidence? Why were the custody records of the station inexplicably changed following his death?

How is it that John Maloney, found comatose and heavily bleeding behind a church in Rathfarnham, received these injuries “minutes” after leaving Garda custody?

These questions merely highlight the corrupt and brutal nature of policing in this state. Whether through death and injury of those in Garda custody, or those killed in the prison system, or those other victims like John Carthy this state violence has been well documented.

It is of huge importance that people support the campaigns of the Wheelocks, Moloneys and other families seeking justice. Organised opposition can hopefully save more lives and create an atmosphere where people can begin working on community alternatives to the state’s hard line force. An injustice to one is and injustice to all!


This article comes from the "Lucy Parsons" newsletter which is the newsletter of the WSM's Lucy Parsons branch.

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