The Management of the Incident at Abbeylara — Siege
The objective of the Garda Sı´ocha´na in relation to crisis incidents, such as that at Abbeylara, is to achieve a peaceful resolution of the incident in as safe a manner as possible, where the risk to the subject, the police, and the public is minimised. The strategy adopted to achieve this end is one of isolation, evacuation, containment and negotiation. This strategy has been adopted in many countries and was used at Abbeylara. However, it has been observed by expert witnesses that there is no ‘‘perfect system’’ for the resolution of incidents such as that under review.
Tactical measures to achieve isolation, evacuation and containment include the formation and implementation of a cordon system, strategically placed and appropriately staffed by trained, experienced officers who are properly instructed and adequately resourced. During the evidence to the Tribunal it became clear that the negotiation leg of this strategy is a crucial one. The isolation and containment of the subject, while in the first place being for the purposes of public safety, after that aim has been achieved, is to provide an appropriate environment for the peaceful resolution of an incident through negotiation.
Tactical measures adopted internationally and in Ireland are considered in this chapter.
In section A the principles of isolation, evacuation and containment are discussed. Section A.1 sets out the observations of international policing experts in relation to cordons and containment. The training of the Garda Sı´ocha´na in relation to siege management is considered in section A.2. In section A.3 the application of these principles to the incident at Abbeylara is addressed. Section A.4 considers the role of local officers and the potential for police cross-fire, a ‘‘blue on blue’’ shooting. The response of officers to issues raised is dealt with in section A.5.
An important aid to the negotiation process is the gathering of information and its analysis and assessment for the purpose of providing intelligence to the officers involved. Section B deals with this matter, and includes the training received by members of the Garda Sı´ocha´na, the experts’ views and observations, and the responses thereto from the appropriate officers.
Section C deals with the principles of negotiation, their application at Abbeylara; the training received by the relevant officers in these principles; the implementation of
the principles and training at Abbeylara; the experts’ views and observations; and, the relevant officers’ responses thereto.
The Tribunal also considered the previous operational experience of the Garda Sı´ocha´na in responding to crisis incidents similar to that at Abbeylara. Evidence was received in connection with an incident at Bawnboy, Co. Cavan in January 1997. The features of the operational response to this incident are set out in section D.
SECTION A: — Isolation, Evacuation and Containment
SECTION A.1 — Cordons and
Containment — Observations of
International Policing Experts
Mr. Bailey noted that the definition of containment is ‘‘the action of keeping something harmful under control or within limits’’. He referred to international consensus, that where an armed individual poses a threat to life, armed police physically restrict such individuals’ movements and isolate them from the public. This process is called containment. It is a well-accepted principle of siege management and requires the establishment of a number of cordons, which consist of an inner cordon of armed officers, whose focus is the individual at the centre of the incident (and who will also obtain intelligence on the subject’s movements); and an outer cordon, whose function and focus is to exclude members of the public from the area. The outer cordon provides the inner cordon with a sterile area within which to operate. Members of the public and unauthorised police officers should be excluded from the sterile area. Mr. Bailey said that access for police personnel should be restricted to armed officers going to and from the stronghold for specific operational tasks, or unarmed specialist personnel escorted by armed officers. The scene commander dictates who is allowed to enter the scene. In the United Kingdom, it is the practice to maintain written records of persons allowed through the outer cordon to the scene. The purpose of the visit is also recorded. This prevents officers congregating near the stronghold as bystanders.
Containment — a solution?
Containment is not a solution to an incident. Mr. Bailey explained that it provides police with the ‘‘control’’ necessary to ensure public safety; ‘‘time’’ to work towards a negotiated solution, to consider tactical options and to prepare detailed plans. The area contained by police will vary with the location and circumstances of the incident. Containment may be overt or covert. Overt containment ensures that the subject is aware that police are present. This may result in an immediate surrender or a change in behaviour thereby reducing the threat posed by his or her actions. When the subject does not surrender, the presence of police restricts movement and often assists in stabilising the situation. Covert containment allows for the organisation of personnel and the preparation of tactical plans before the subject is
made aware of police presence. Such containment usually provides greater safety for the first police responders. Mr. Bailey considered that, at Abbeylara, John Carthy was aware of police presence, but could not have seen the sort of numbers that he mentioned in his phone call to Kevin Ireland. As far as he could determine, the containment was effective but visually discreet. None of the evidence, of which he was aware, indicated that John Carthy could have seen gardaı´, other than those at the negotiation point.
Personnel at inner cordon
Mr. Bailey explained that no one should be allowed at or inside the inner cordon, other than armed officers putting into effect a tactical option. Exceptions to this rule include police dog handlers who are normally unarmed. Other specialists may also be permitted. These are people who require access to fulfil their specific role, such as personnel from a technical support unit who may be charged with putting into place appropriate specialist equipment. He reported that when such persons are unarmed each dog handler or specialist will require a dedicated armed officer to provide for his protection.
Containment — an illusion?
Mr. Lanceley, whose primary expertise is as a negotiator in crisis negotiation and not as a tactical scene manager, commented that when tactical personnel devised the concept of inner cordons or perimeters, what was really in mind was a combat or a hostage type situation. He observed that, in reality, what keeps a person contained is the fear of coming out. If he does not have such fear, he is not contained. Only persons who perceive a threat outside will stay inside, and thereby be contained. He commented that containment at Abbeylara was largely an illusion. Short of nailing the doors and windows closed, he queried how containment was possible to achieve. He felt that John Carthy was contained for as long as he chose to be so contained. When he chose not to be contained he walked out of the residence with a shotgun in his hand. He was not contained, he was ‘‘merely surrounded’’; containment prevents an escape. Mr. Lanceley believed that in the absence of proper containment the police would have to resort to tactical options, something which he had advised against on many occasions before. Reassurance to the subject that there would not be police encroachment is standard practice in the United States; something which he observed Detective Sergeant Jackson did ‘‘on almost every communication’’.
Mr. Bailey agreed with the psychology of the concept of containment. He did not agree, however, that containment at Abbeylara was largely an illusion. The containment at Abbeylara was similar to almost every firearms situation worldwide. Effective containment is achieved when police maintain their position, do not advance and the subject remains where he is. He had no criticism of the deployment of the ERU officers at Abbeylara, but highlighted what is considered good practice in the United Kingdom of deploying officers in pairs. This, he said, was for a variety of reasons including the requirement of continuing observation. He expressed the opinion that containment was effective at Abbeylara.
Containment — spontaneous incidents and planning
Pre-planned operation — Garda Code
The Garda Code makes specific provision for what are known as pre-planned operations. The evidence to the Tribunal suggests that the provisions of the Code, in this regard, are designed to deal with situations which are planned in advance. Personnel involved in pre-planned operations will have adequate time to make plans in advance of their participation in that operation. Generally speaking, such plans will be operation specific. Non pre-planned operations or spontaneous incidents include emergency situations which require immediate response, such as the incident at Abbeylara.
Initial response — planning — generic response plan
The evidence of Mr. Bailey is that in the initial stages of a spontaneous firearms incident, the police operation will be based primarily on a generic response plan. Such planning is normally limited to the selection of pre-learned tactics that provide the most likely solution to known events. He stressed the desirability and necessity of making plans, and of writing those plans down. Once a spontaneous incident stabilises, plans are made and written down to assist in the resolution of the incident. Contingencies are identified and plans are prepared to address them. These contingencies are sometimes known as the ‘‘what ifs’’, and involve thinking through what could happen in the particular incident. As the incident develops, the plans will be reassessed and may be amended, if required. They are also used to brief new personnel and enable senior officers to be informed of ongoing developments. He was of the view that, at some stage, an ongoing incident which commences spontaneously becomes a planned operation.
Tactical response defined by strategy
The response, tactical and otherwise, to any incident is defined by the strategy which has been set for the operation. The strategy which was adopted at Abbeylara was to evacuate, isolate, contain and negotiate. Such a strategy requires planning. It may be that there are standard plans that will be required at any siege. It is likely that these will be prepared in advance by the tactical team. According to Mr. Bailey, this will afford the team the opportunity, in training, to put plans into effect and to ensure that they have the necessary equipment available when responding to an incident. Such plans may also be generic and may include delivery plans, exit plans, break-out plans and a surrender plan. However, they should be adapted for use at the particular incident. In respect of any novel contingency which emerges, a specific plan should be prepared.
Planning — exit plan
One such plan, being an exit or break-out plan, has been described by Mr. Bailey in evidence as a moving containment plan. It is noted that during the course of the evidence at the Tribunal, this plan has been referred to as ‘‘moving containment’’, or ‘‘flexible or moving cordon’’ plan. It is a plan which allows a cordon of officers to move with the subject. It does not of itself provide a solution to the incident. It
provides more time to resolve the situation before there is a requirement to resort to lethal force, if necessary. The scene commander develops the plan in conjunction with the tactical team leader and the negotiator, if appropriate. The plan may include such things as how the person will surrender, a consideration of how he or she may come out, taking into account whether the subject is to be allowed come out with a firearm, and the instructions that are to be given to the subject in such circumstances.
2. Moving containment — the appropriateness of the tactic
Moving containment as a tactic — diverging views
Considerable evidence was adduced at the tribunal in relation to the moving containment, or flexible cordon plan, as a tactic which was purported to be employed at Abbeylara. Different views were expressed by various overseas policing experts as to whether it is an appropriate tactic to be adopted or employed in circumstances such as those that prevailed at Abbeylara. Some regard this tactic as being too dangerous, resulting in the transfer of the problem to a different location. It is a plan which is not favoured in certain jurisdictions, such as the United States and Victoria, Australia. Mr. Lanceley was particularly critical of the use of moving containment as a tactic, stating in his view, that a moving cordon is close to being an oxymoron: ‘‘if law-enforcement is moving the cordon with the subject, then he has already breached the inner cordon. There is no containment. There is no perimeter’’. However, Mr. Bailey was of the view that if the cordon is moving around an individual, he is still within the cordon. He has not breached the inner cordon. He remains contained. It may not be as satisfactory as if he were static in a building. There is still a perimeter, that perimeter is the outer cordon. It is providing a sterile area in ‘‘permitting the movement that the moving cordon creates’’.
Moving containment — a spreading of the threat? — sterile area
Mr. Lanceley in his report and evidence observed that containment and perimeters serve several purposes and functions. These include preventing the spread of the threat. A moving cordon does not accomplish this objective. If the subject is moving, the threat is moving with him to new areas. Another objective of the cordon is to prevent the escape of the subject. The experience in the United States is that subjects have escaped when moving cordons were attempted. Mr. Lanceley also expressed the view that, as the subject moves to new areas, the threat moves. Mr. Bailey agreed, but for him the real issue was whether those new areas were sterile. If the area is sterile, the threat is not increasing or changing; there is no one who might be subject to that threat. A sterile area is required so that the likelihood of confrontation between the subject and other police personnel is reduced. Mr. Bailey emphasised that if you have a sterile area with no one in it, this allows movement. The exclusion of the public from this area is of greater importance than the exclusion of police personnel. However, police personnel who are present should:
‘‘only be those that need to be there to provide the armed containment of the individual and those same individuals that would be providing the moving containment. If you have additional police personnel, the likelihood is that they
get in the way, they become potential targets themselves and reduce the distance that somebody can be allowed to move’’.
He accepted that it was more difficult to plan and allow a moving containment in an urban environment. However, it has occurred. The greater the distance the subject of the siege can be allowed to travel, the more time police have to deploy another tactic or to succeed in negotiation. To be most effective, alternative tactics, particularly less lethal ones, should be available to resolve the incident, before the subject reaches a point where the threat he poses to others requires police to use lethal force. Thus, in the United Kingdom, police dogs are an essential part of the cordon system.
Mr. Lanceley also observed that another function of containment and perimeters, namely the prevention of the entry of unauthorised persons to the operational area, is compromised when moving containment takes effect. Because the operational area moves, it becomes much more difficult for the authorities to prevent the entry of unauthorised persons into that area, particularly if the authorities do not know where the subject of the incident is going. Further, the subject effectively controls and determines the direction of travel. Mr. Bailey was in general agreement with these sentiments. Nevertheless, his view was that this also comes back to the question of a sterile area. If the area is sterile there is no problem. If it is not sterile, there is a problem:
‘‘It comes back to my point in relation to the location of the outer cordon ,i.e. the point at which no innocent parties could pass or get into it. Providing you have a sufficiently large sterile area, it is still safe and controlled by police because no one can get into it, there is no one there.... and you can allow the movement. If you were unable to make the area sterile, you wouldn’t be able to operate the containment system, hence you wouldn’t be able to operate a moving containment.’’
It is to be observed that in those circumstances the necessity to shoot an armed subject might be unavoidable.
Moving containment — isolation
Mr. Lanceley stated that a further purpose of the cordon was to isolate the subject from the outside world. When moving containment takes place, Mr. Lanceley expressed the view that the subject is no longer isolated. Mr. Bailey agreed but thought that this point was more significant from the negotiator’s perspective. In a moving containment, the subject is still isolated from the outside world in terms of posing a threat, which is the tactical firearms officers’ consideration. Psychologically, the subject may not be isolated from the outside world and this could be significant to the negotiator. It does not, however, create a reason for not adopting a moving containment, if it is safe to adopt, Mr. Bailey told the Tribunal.
Moving containment — pressure on the subject
Mr. Lanceley further noted that a purpose of moving containment is that it puts pressure on a subject and that while putting pressure on a hostage taker may be advantageous, putting additional pressure on someone such as John Carthy is not advantageous: ‘‘He is already under a lot of pressure’’. Mr. Bailey agreed, but stated that when one considers the alternative (being the use of lethal force to prevent him from leaving the curtilage of his house), the option of not shooting and attempting to peacefully resolve the situation has to be the option to be selected.
Moving containment — shape of cordon
Containment enables a disciplined controlled response of emergency resources by facilitating the establishment and placement of staging areas, command post, perimeters, and checkpoints. With moving containment or moving cordon, Mr. Lanceley was of the view that all of those advantages were lost. Further, he did not know what an ideal moving cordon looked like; thus, in his view an L-shaped cordon is extremely dangerous if anyone discharges a weapon. There was risk of crossfire. Many situations in the United States that ended tragically were moving situations. In other situations the subject escaped.
Moving containment — cover
A moving cordon requires personnel to leave cover and move to the next position of cover, if there is any. Mr. Lanceley visited the scene at Abbeylara and, from what he observed, there was no cover for gardaı´ to use in a moving incident. Mr. Lanceley queried how a moving cordon was to be safely achieved, with an obvious requirement for officers to maintain cover. The concept of moving containment achieves two things, Mr. Lanceley concluded — it leaves the decision to a lower ranking individual, and endangers lives. While a ‘‘lovely idea’’, the concept ‘‘horrified’’ him. He had never seen a single incident in his career where the concept worked.
While he understood why the gardaı´ wanted to perform a moving containment, he did not agree with counsel for the Commissioner’s suggestion that ‘‘on his own analysis’’, it was appropriate to try to have a form of moving containment, instead of an earlier and more potentially lethal option. The risk was too high. Gardaı´ put their own lives at risk:
‘‘once he came out the door with his shotgun, . . . any likelihood of a peaceful resolution had just evaporated’’.
He accepted that what had occurred was an ongoing deferral of the use of lethal force. The big difference between Ireland and the United States, he surmised, was ‘‘who makes the decision’’. In the United States the senior man makes the decision as to where to draw the line in the sand. In both the United States and Ireland, the use of lethal force is a last resort, but this is where the situations differed — when do you arrive at the point of last resort? He felt that the law and culture in Ireland was expecting a ‘‘whole lot from police officers’’. He agreed with counsel for the 36 named gardaı´ that the difference in culture and law (i.e. the taking or non-taking of advanced decisions whether to shoot or not) may provide a possible explanation
why moving containment is an option preferred in this jurisdiction. Perhaps it was a question of experience. Perhaps, he queried, the culture here will evolve but gardaı´ may die before such an approach is changed.
It was not entirely clear to Mr. Bailey how the ERU intended to safely achieve a moving cordon. From a training perspective people are trained to make as much use of cover as possible. Where you cannot make use of cover, officers are taught tactics to make themselves smaller targets. He noted that local officers and ERU officers demonstrated this when they moved into and out of the containment area during the course of the incident. The evidence demonstrated that they understood that buildings and objects provided them with cover. He expected that their training would have taught them to move from cover to cover.
Moving containment — planning for cover
Thus, in planning for moving containment one must consider the availability of cover and provide for cover if it is sparse or if none exists. For example it is possible to go to the opposite side of a wall as the subject moves to the other side. It is also possible to plan in advance by pre-positioning cover such as police vehicles. Generally speaking, the engine compartment, the wheels and the back axles of motor vehicles provide cover from bullets, but not necessarily cartridges. However, ballistic protection and cover can be provided by placing a ballistic or ‘‘Kevlar’’ blanket on a vehicle. A Kevlar blanket is made of the same material as body armour and would stop a shot from a shotgun. Therefore, with additional planning it would have been possible to position cover for officers, even in the absence of having a specialist armoured vehicle at the scene. In planning, if the point at which officers have no cover is identified, a risk assessment should be carried out and attempts made to reduce the risk. This is done by providing some cover. There is, however, a downside to providing cover in the middle of the road in that the subject may make use of this cover for himself. However, that, at least, would mean that the subject had stopped and had created a more static situation. In either eventuality, therefore, Mr. Bailey expressed the opinion that the provision of cover can only lead to an improved situation.
Mr. Burdis spoke about putting bulky obstacles in the way such as large bales of straw, sandbags etc., which might not only provide cover for officers but would also make life more difficult for John Carthy to walk along a straight path. However, he agreed with the Chairman’s observations that you would need an awful lot of obstacles in order to confine John Carthy, who was a fit young man, to the curtilage of the house or even within the garden. He agreed that he could not say you should put obstacles in every particular place. He saw benefit in putting an obstacle across the front gateway. Ultimately, Mr. Burdis was not critical of the fact that obstacles were not put in the way. ‘‘One must apply common sense in the circumstances’’. Essentially it came to a question of giving proper consideration and analysis as to whether obstacles could be of benefit.
Moving containment — a line in the sand
In his evidence to the Tribunal, Sergeant Jackson stated that the gardaı´ did not operate a policy of drawing a line in the sand; or that such a line could not be crossed regardless of the level of threat posed by the individual. In the United States, Mr. Lanceley stated that ‘‘a line would have been drawn in the sand’’. Mr. Carthy would have been told not to step over that line because ‘‘it would be just too dangerous for everyone’’. In the United States, he would have been told not to come out of the house with the shotgun, that if he came out of the house with the shotgun in his hand, he would be considered as presenting an imminent threat to officers. He would have been told that ‘‘you are going to get yourself hurt, Mr. Carthy. Do not do that’’.
Mr. Bailey commented that what was proposed in moving containment is to move a ‘‘bubble’’ around the subject maintaining the sterile area. No member of the public is present, there is no threat, and the police can keep a degree of control over the individual. He further agreed that it would be unreasonable and impossible to have a situation where the subject is permitted to ‘‘walk miles’’. There are few circumstances where that could be sustained and still maintain public safety. Most circumstances, in which moving containment operates, are measured in yards not miles, but is determined by the point at which the subject poses a threat to the lives of others. That becomes the point beyond which the subject cannot be permitted to pass. Thus, the immediacy of a threat may become apparent where a person is still in the building and in certain circumstances he may be justifiably shot. Similarly, such a ‘‘line’’ may be near the outer cordon, but, Mr. Bailey said:
‘‘it has to be drawn effectively where the outer cordon becomes part of the risk unless you can move your outer cordon, and that is considerably more difficult to do than moving your inner cordon or adjusting the deployment of your inner cordon’’.
Such a point is one that the scene commander identifies as being one where the subject is likely to confront unarmed personnel or endanger the public. He agreed however, that in placing containment on an individual who poses a potential threat to the public and others that you must identify where the line in the sand is. What permits a moving containment is when you can place the ‘‘line in the sand’’ next to, or extremely near, the outer cordon, and not the inner cordon.
Stopping John Carthy without risk to others
Mr. Lanceley observed that ‘‘unfortunately there is no technology, device, tactic or procedure that could have stopped Mr. Carthy without further risk to innocent parties’’. Mr. Bailey did not agree with this. He was ‘‘totally convinced’’ that a police dog would have been an option had the incident occurred in the UK. However, no such option, including the police dog option, could give any guarantees. The use of dogs in the potential resolution of incidents, such as at Abbeylara, is considered in Chapter 11.
Moving containment — inner cordon — specialist intervention
Mr. Burdis essentially agreed with Mr. Bailey’s observations on moving containment. Mr. Burdis accepted that it was a tactic which was difficult to deploy depending largely on topography and cover. In the circumstance that obtained at Abbeylara, he believed that it could have been used to good effect. There has got to be ‘‘quite a lot of space’’ in the sterile area especially if one is contemplating any form of moving containment. It was, at least, a means of securing more time and changing the circumstances and opportunities for a peaceful resolution.
Mr. Burdis also expressed the opinion, that where there is time to prepare for such eventuality, it was good practice to rehearse or at least to try out some of the thoughts and plans pertaining to the situation. Every officer concerned with the moving containment plan requires careful briefing and each needs to know precisely what the other is intending to do. He stated that it was not usual to use officers from the inner cordon to perform this function. He observed that it can be too difficult for them to move from their post quickly enough to maintain control over the subject, and to do so with proper regard for their own safety. Thus, if the entire inner cordon was in a fixed place they are not easily able to respond to a particular moving containment, especially in a breakout situation. Some of them will not be in positions where they are able to respond quickly:
‘‘having to run very quickly down the garden, for instance, is not really the best way of being able to respond to an incident. Whereas had the officers been located in very close quarters, but not responsible for actually manning the inner cordon, they would have been much better able to move — and much more quickly — and freer to move than they were in this instance’’.
However, he described that as a ‘‘luxury’’ which did not often apply.
Mr. Bailey agreed that in certain circumstances such a difficulty may arise. However, he remained of the view that it was possible for officers on the inner cordon to involve themselves in moving containment. He made the point that if one was to deploy officers to be available to do a moving containment, four separate teams of officers might be required to cover each side of the house. That could create a ‘‘logistical nightmare’’. It may well be that there is a requirement for additional officers but Mr. Bailey did not think that it should be said, as a matter of policy, that officers on the inner cordon should not be allowed to move. Further, it was appropriate to re-deploy officers who are no longer achieving their objective. Mr. Bailey’s comments in this regard were put to Mr. Burdis, who noted that certain officers arrived and were put in place at approximately 10:15 p.m. on the first night, and did not have an opportunity of talking together about how they might, as a unit, deliver moving containment if it was ever required:
‘‘they may well have talked on the radio to each other, but very much a face to face conversation and being part of a properly devised plan was never an option that they were able to take part in’’.
He felt that in this case it could be argued that there was sufficient time and resources for such an exercise to take place especially if the ERU had not been engaged almost
from the moment they arrived in the manning of the inner cordon. The ERU should have spent its time planning to manage the eventuality of an uncontrolled armed exit. He commented as follows:
‘‘... once the subject moves up the lane, then you have to think about how you get from that property into the next door’s property and whether you allow him to go to the next door property or go beyond that. What action you are going to do and where you draw the lines at that are going to prevent him moving any further.’’
Mr. Burdis also thought that officers engaged on both cordons require a briefing because the subject could easily approach their position. The officers also require to be briefed as to the limit of territorial boundaries and their legal duties in such circumstances where those boundaries might be breached.
SECTION A.2 — Training of Members of the Garda Sı´ocha´na in Relation to Siege Management
1. Evidence of Chief Superintendent Ludlow, Detective Superintendent Hogan
Evidence relating to the relevant training of gardaı´ was given to the Tribunal by a number of officers, including Chief Superintendent Kevin Ludlow, the director of training and development at the Garda College in Templemore, and Superintendent Patrick Hogan, who has overall responsibility for the ERU. The evidence of Chief Superintendent Ludlow and Superintendent Hogan is now considered in subsections 1 and 2.
Officers of all ranks receive training in the operation of cordons. Chief Superintendent Ludlow stated in evidence that a ‘‘building block system’’ is utilised in training for a number of issues — cordons being a specific example of one of them. Insofar as student/probationer gardaı´ are concerned, they are first introduced to the concept of cordons by way of general discussions when considering issues involving major emergency planning. While there are no specific lectures on cordons, Chief Superintendent Ludlow stated that as they touch upon many areas of day-to-day garda activity, training is interwoven in those areas. Training in cordons is considerably more specific in the sergeants’ development programme. Furthermore, detailed training is given to inspectors and superintendents in their promotion courses which is directly related to the additional responsibilities that those officers have. The evidence proffered to the Tribunal indicates that in an incident of the type that occurred at Abbeylara, the system, as taught to officers envisages two cordons, an inner cordon looking inward, and an outer cordon looking outward. The former directs its attention to the stronghold; the latter ensures that unauthorised persons and vehicles do not trespass upon the scene. This is accepted by the gardaı´ as reflecting good international practice, and is reflected in the training received by
garda officers of different ranks. Chief Superintendent Ludlow also stated that the purpose of the outer cordon is to keep the area between the two cordons sterile. The concept of a sterile area is explained in training to the student/probationer gardaı´ in the context of the requirements of a response to a major emergency.
Flexibility within cordons
With regard to the concept of moving containment as referred to by various experts at the Tribunal, Chief Superintendent Ludlow stated in evidence that he was unaware of the term ‘‘moving containment’’. Flexibility within cordons arises from the concept that cordon plans should be sufficiently flexible to provide for changing circumstances. This was echoed in the evidence of Superintendent Hogan who stated that the concept of moving containment is not taught in the Garda Sı´ocha´na. What is taught is movement/cover within the training on the concept of cordons. The concept in general is based on issues of movement, cover and flexibility as to where cordons are placed. He confirmed that local detectives are aware of the concept of having to move during the placement of a cordon, and they receive training in connection with this. Members of an inner cordon, he stated, should not allow breakout from that cordon, because it lessens police control. Flexibility in the cordon system prohibits such an occurrence.
Back-up cordons and sterile areas
Superintendent Hogan was also questioned on the concept of a back-up cordon, as dealt with in training. This, he said, was addressed in the context of allocation of available resources and was dealt with in the practical aspect of the Superintendents Development Course. He observed that the training in the practical aspect of the Detectives Training Course is that such officers are taught and know that ‘‘they are resources’’ and will be allocated to such duties as the scene commander sees fit. He explained in evidence that while the sterile area required the exclusion of certain people, it did not prevent the reallocation or movement of personnel between the inner cordon and the outer cordon. That is a police operational area. It was important, he said, that officers understood the concept of the outer cordon, providing an area where policing can operate. In firearms incident training emphasis is placed on danger within the sterile area. Gardaı´ are aware, through training, of the need to keep cordons intact; and of the necessity to maintain the credibility of the cordon. However, he stated that the flexibility required to manage a scene must take cognisance of the fact that you may need to move resources in or out — or ‘‘whatever
you decide on’’.
2. Training — siege management
Senior officers — Operational Commanders Course
Chief Superintendent Ludlow provided evidence of the training received on the Operational Commanders Course, which is part of the Superintendents Development Course. It includes information and training on such issues as cordons and armed operations which are carried out on a theoretical and practical basis. In relation to the formulation of plans, preparation for contingencies, the keeping of logs, and the
gathering of information, contributions to the courses are made by officers who have expertise in specific operational areas or who have had training expertise in those areas. Training in relation to the interaction between the local commander and the ERU was done by way of table-top exercises. Log keeping was addressed in training connected with armed operations. The advice on the recording of logistical information such as duty times, entry and exit times from the cordons etc., he noted, was delivered in the lectures on ‘‘Siege Theory’’ and in the ‘‘Siege Practical’’ lecture. In his experience, the importance of intelligence and information gathering is explored in practical exercises. Teaching in relation to the location of the command and negotiation posts, and the safety of officers was also addressed in the context of the practical scenarios. Assessment of risk in connection with officer safety was taught in a number of different modules on the Superintendents Development Course.
The Chief Superintendents Development Course contains a lecture on ‘‘Principles of on-Scene Command, Including Hostage Negotiation and Management Development Programme’’. This lecture is given by a Detective Inspector from the ERU. As is appropriate to the role of Chief Superintendents, the training and discussion here is at a more strategic level.
In evidence Superintendent Hogan outlined the input of the ERU to the training of senior officers on scene management techniques. As a detective garda and a detective sergeant within the ERU, he was involved ‘‘on the ground’’ during practical exercises forming part of the Superintendents Development Course, though not in delivering lectures. As a detective inspector in charge of the ERU, he delivered lectures on the Superintendents Development Course from 1996 onwards. His involvement was in the theoretical aspects of siege management; what the ERU could bring to a siege; and in the broader assistance the ERU could be to district officers in their general policing role. ERU members took part in the practical exercises forming part of the course. These lectures, he said, provided an opportunity for interaction between the management of the ERU and district officers, and for informing the latter as to the specialist function which the ERU could bring to incidents. Such lectures also covered the key principles of ‘‘evacuate, isolate, contain and negotiate’’. In connection with cordons advice was given by the ERU participants on the necessity of establishing a sterile area between the inner and outer cordons; the purpose of this area being to exclude unnecessary people from the scene for safety reasons. The establishment of this area provides a working environment for the police to perform whatever tactic is required.
It was impressed upon the new superintendents that the cordon system is a key element to any major incident.
It is not common practice for non-ERU detectives to train with ERU personnel in relation to tactical manoeuvres such as movement and cover. However, joint training opportunities may arise during tactical training courses for local detectives, and do arise in the practical siege scenario on the Superintendents Development Course.
Superintendent Hogan stated that local detectives are aware that they may form part of an inner cordon with the ERU. Thus, they have an academic knowledge from their training together with practical applications of this knowledge in the course of their training, of such a requirement.
Role, training and involvement of the ERU
Role at scene
Superintendent Hogan outlined the role of the ERU at a siege or barricaded incident. Its first role is primary containment; an additional role is to facilitate the negotiator in whatever tactic he or she adopts. The scene, however, remains under the control of the scene commander and ERU personnel operate under his or her control. Decision making rests ultimately with the scene commander. The scene commander receives advice which he or she is free to accept or reject from the tactical unit leader. Superintendent Hogan said that the primary response of the Garda Sı´ocha´na is to facilitate a peaceful resolution through negotiation. The gathering of on-scene intelligence, safe delivery of medicines and food and the implementation of release and surrender procedures are part of the overall response. He also stated:
‘‘As the ERU provides a specialist armed response to a wide variety of incidents, the firearms training element is emphasised. From this base other skills are added, such as first-aid, rope access, special entry techniques, driving and self-defence methods. Physical fitness also forms a major part of training as the role is demanding both physically and mentally. These various elements are combined in the development of tactical and operational methodology’’.
Dealing with ERU training, Superintendent Hogan observed:
‘‘Approximately 25% of ERU time is scheduled for training, this compares equally with similar full-time police tactical units. In addition, each of the four units must attend bi-annual training weeks at the Garda College where fitness tests and firearms qualifications are undertaken, along with general training. The specialist school Garda College supervises this training’’.
He further stated in evidence that:
‘‘Prior to allocation to ERU each applicant must complete a two week pre-selection process. Those successful undergo a six week training module consisting of; qualification in pistol and Uzi, driver training and basic tactical skills. The latter module introduces trainees to the basics of siege management and the roles played by the various elements that compose the garda response to such incidents. Applicants are then allocated to an operational unit where they must complete a two year probationary period, prior to appointment as a detective in the ERU. It takes approximately eighteen months for new members of the ERU to qualify in all basic skills courses prior to specialisation. Following this, members may train to instructor level in skills such as firearms, rope access and first aid, with selected members specialising in other skills and equipment’’.
The training which members of the ERU receive is dealt with in more detail in Chapter 10.
The relationship between the ERU and the scene commander at the scene
Superintendent Hogan explained that ERU Headquarters does not interfere with what is going on at the scene of an incident, but is available to give advice to the scene commander. Headquarters’ involvement is confined to being familiar with what is happening at the scene, so as ‘‘to keep an eye’’ on the logistics and the use of resources.
3. The evidence of Detective Superintendent Maher
Superintendent Timothy Maher gave evidence in private session. It is therefore not intended to deal with his evidence in detail. Superintendent Maher lectured on relevant Garda training courses.
Much of what was stated by Chief Superintendent Ludlow and Superintendent Hogan is echoed in the evidence of Superintendent Maher. He observed that it was acknowledged within the Garda Sı´ocha´na that superintendents, as district officers taking over the management of a siege, would not have had substantial expertise or exposure to the management of such incidents. Therefore the primary objective of the course was to engender an understanding of the concept of siege management. In particular superintendents were made aware of the expertise that was available to them (negotiators, ERU, technical personnel etc.) and given an understanding of the format or structure of siege management. Superintendent Maher lectured on the course together with members of the ERU. The following is a brief synopsis of his evidence in relation to the training of scene commanders.
Training emphasises that the scene commander retains overall responsibility for the incident and it deals with the skills necessary in bringing together a team of different experts or specialists and managing them in a coordinated way. He must maintain an integrated command structure so that all actions contribute to the overall objective.
Preparation — establishment of a forward control base
The superintendent of the relevant district (or someone delegated to act in his absence) should go to the scene of the incident and establish a forward control base. Forward control is located between the inner and outer cordons.
The scene commander should locate himself or herself at the forward control base from where all instructions will be issued. If the siege occurs in an isolated area the forward control may be situated in an official vehicle which has radio communication with the base station or headquarters; a steady stream of precise and accurate information should be relayed from forward control to the base station.
Assessment of required resources
Initially, the primary role of the scene commander is the development of an operational strategy for the resolution of the incident. This will involve contingency planning, the rapid evaluation of the situation, making decisions on the capability of the resources currently available to him or her and deciding whether extra expertise or resources are required. Appropriate officers should be selected to take charge of different facets of the operation (such as cordons, negotiations, firearms, etc.) together with dedicated liaison officers between these facets and the scene commander. The delegation of intelligence gathering is another important function and such intelligence should be available at forward control.
This is described as asking ‘‘what if’’ and making arrangements accordingly. The ‘‘what ifs’’ common to most sieges (and suggested required measures) include:
i The possibility of injury — ambulance and medical assistance on standby. i The possibility of a fire in the stronghold — fire brigade on standby. i Relatives will arrive at the scene — appointment of a liaison officer. i Arrests may be necessary — appointment of an arresting officer.
i What will happen when darkness falls — arrange for lighting at the scene.
i Arrange for ground and area photographs of the scene — may assist in planning to resolve incident by force.
i Requests may be made for food etc. — make delivery plans. i Intermediaries may be requested — plan accordingly.
i A breakout plan should be considered which may involve considering the multiple ways in which a subject may leave the stronghold. The placement of the inner cordon is the first step in contingency planning for a breakout by the subject. A plan must be prepared in relation to surrender as soon as possible. Liaison with the firearms team in relation to the plan is critical, as well as liaison with the negotiator. The agreement of the subject should be secured in relation to the precise method of surrender.
Superintendent Maher observed that when the ERU are involved, a member of the ERU is in charge of the inner cordon which must operate at all times in a disciplined manner. They are told not to move around unduly in order to avoid ‘‘spooking’’ or intimidating the subject. There should be the least amount of visibility, from the point of view of the subject, in order that the subject is not crowded either deliberately or inadvertently. If this is happening there is a risk that it may interfere with negotiations and the negotiator may request the members to move back out of sight of the subject. The members of the inner cordon may play a role in intelligence gathering. The members of the inner cordon should liaise, through an officer, with the scene
commander, the head of the inner cordon and the negotiator (especially in relation to any movement in the stronghold). This liaison officer is part of the firearms team.
Superintendent Maher was asked to describe what would happen in the event that the ERU were brought in to participate in a siege type operation. He outlined that the ERU would ordinarily take responsibility for the inner cordon subject to the direction of the scene commander who retains ultimate control of the entire operation. It was acknowledged that in a situation of that type the scene commander normally utilises the resources of local armed officers prior to the arrival of the ERU. When the ERU arrives local armed officers may be withdrawn to fulfil some other function such as intelligence gathering. He observed that it was preferable that the ERU, who are trained as one unit, operate as a team alone; but this is subject to a decision about the redeployment of the local armed gardaı´ which would be made by the scene commander in conjunction with the leader of the ERU. In response to a question by counsel for the Commissioner, Superintendent Maher stated that there was nothing in training forbidding the scene commander from retaining the local armed officers in whatever capacity he or she deems appropriate and that there is nothing wrong or inconsistent with their training if a scene commander decides to deploy them as a back-up to the inner cordon.
4. Observations on training
Mr. Bailey stated that the material provided in evidence by Superintendent Maher demonstrates that the gardaı´ were as knowledgeable of the current thinking of siege command prior to April, 2000 as police in the UK and elsewhere. In his view it would stand the test of international benchmarking and should be considered a good practice model. The material that was provided to the Tribunal was appropriate for the command role at a firearms siege and likely to produce commanders who could be considered properly trained. However, Mr. Bailey found it difficult to reconcile the course material with some aspects of the incident at Abbeylara. He highlighted some issues of best practice that were explained in evidence by Superintendent Maher but that appeared, in Mr. Bailey’s view, to have been dealt with differently at Abbeylara. Such issues are referred to in this chapter.
5. Superintendent Shelly’s training
Operational Commanders Course
Superintendent Shelly underwent a three day Operational Commanders Course as part of his Superintendents Development Course at the Garda College between 7th April, 1997 and 10th October, 1997. He confirmed that the course aims dealt with a number of objectives, including:
‘‘Operational Commanders Tactical Course Aims:
1. To appreciate the role/function of the operational commander.
2. To have an appreciation of the effects of firearms in different situations.
3. To understand the concept of operational planning.
4. Be able to plan and put into effect a tactical operation of any scale or size.
1. Be capable of assimilating information with a view towards assessing the requirements for any operation and devise an effective tactic.
2. Be capable of taking overall charge of any serious incident, such as a siege, hostage taking, a search.
3. Be competent to plan, organise, control and lead a pre-planned garda action involving firearms.
4. Be able to identify and effectively deploy the various skills and resources available at a serious incident’’.
This course also included a lecture described as ‘‘the siege — practical’’ where issues relating to cordons, negotiations, the media, equipment, assault, debrief and discussion were considered. It also covered topics such as firearms incidents and operational planning.
Superintendent Shelly also underwent the Tactical Supervisors Course between the 1 2th January, 1991 and the 21st January, 1991. He told the Tribunal that he underwent basic firearms training ‘‘a good many years ago’’.
In his evidence to the Tribunal, Superintendent Shelly confirmed that he understood from his training that the inner cordon looked inwards, its function being to contain. Because it is nearer the subject and the stronghold, it also has an intelligence gathering function. The outer cordon, he stated, was to prevent unauthorised access to the scene. He also accepted that the area in between is a sterile area; or as he described it, a ‘‘buffer zone’’. His understanding is that this:
‘‘is to allow the people on the inner cordon to perform their function. As I have already referred to the command post, in whatever shape or form it would take, would be between both cordons as well and, as scene commander, I would obviously be operating in that area’’.
Superintendent Shelly was queried on whether the concept of a back-up to a cordon featured in his training. He stated:
‘‘I believe it did. I believe that it is the responsibility and it is left to the resources of the person in charge as scene commander to deploy resources at a scene, as has been described in cordons. There is certainly nothing in my training that I can recall, that would prevent me from doing whatI did.’’
6. Detective Sergeant Russell’s training
Sergeant Russell received training in line with that received by other members of the ERU as outlined in Chapter 10. He was trained in the use of the Uzi sub-machine gun, the .38 Smith & Wesson revolver, the Sig Sauer 9 mm. pistol, the Heckler and Koch 33 rifle and the pump action shotgun. He attended numerous tactical training courses including a rural operations course at the Garda College, Templemore. Further, in line with other members of the ERU, he spent one week in every four undergoing tactical, physical and firearms disciplines training with his unit.
Sergeant Russell also confirmed, in evidence, that the purpose of the inner cordon was to contain the subject within that cordon and to make sure there was no breach through it. The outer cordon was to make sure that no one entered the actual area from outside. It was also ‘‘a back-up to the inner cordon’’. The outer cordon was also to ensure that no unauthorized personnel such as civilians, family members etc., would gain access to the area ‘‘everything must be controlled through the scene commander and no one would enter it without knowledge of the control, which would be the scene commander’’. It was, he said, taken for granted that uniformed personnel would have occasion to come into the area. He had no difficulty with the fact that uniformed members of the garda might be located between the inner and outer cordon: ‘‘it is just a fact of life in dealing with situations that there will be, as we are primarily a uniformed force An Garda Sı´ocha´na, and that there would always be a uniform presence on any operation, particularly of a public nature like that’’.
7. Training of other senior officers
Superintendent Byrne underwent a three day Operational Commanders Course as part of his Superintendents Development Course in the Garda College during the period 22nd November, 1999 to 28th January, 2000. He also underwent the Tactical Supervisors Firearms Course, as a sergeant, in 1990/91. This course was similar in its contents and form to that which was undergone by Superintendent Shelly.
Assistant Commissioner Hickey
Assistant Commissioner Hickey underwent a three day Operational Commanders Course as part of the Superintendents Development Course between 21st January, 1991 and 7th June, 1991. When appointed to the rank of Assistant Commissioner, in 1993, he underwent a Chief Superintendents Development Course.
Chief Superintendent Tansey
Chief Superintendent Tansey retired from the Garda Sı´ocha´na in February, 2003. In 1990, he attended the Superintendents Development Course including a 1 day Operational Commanders Course for senior officers which took place on 9th March,
1990. He also underwent the Chief Superintendents Development Course towards the end of 1996 beginning of 1997.
8. Technical support and equipment General
The Garda Sı´ocha´na has a technical support unit. Technical equipment available includes field phones where the incident is one that requires a trained negotiator. Other relevant equipment may include various visual aids such as cameras, televisions, closed-circuit television and sound devices. Cameras or closed-circuit television are important for securing sight of the stronghold. All such devices are relevant to the gathering of intelligence. Technical support unit personnel participate in training exercises. They are also involved in setting up the equipment on-site and providing ongoing technical support and upgrading of equipment as necessary.
Inspector Michael Flynn, an inspector attached to the technical support unit of the Garda Sı´ocha´na, stated in evidence that the unit, as at present constituted, was developed as a result of an amalgamation of two units in January, 2000. It is part of the Telecommunications Section at Garda Headquarters under the control of a superintendent based there. The services of the unit are available to all members of the Garda Sı´ocha´na. It provides support for activities ranging from video enhancement, video processing and recording to more specialised operations.
Requests for technical support unit assistance are normally made by a scene commander to the superintendent in charge of the technical support unit.
Involvement in training
As a member of the technical support unit, Inspector Flynn has an input in relation to scene commanders training. He has contributed to both the Negotiators Training Course and the Scene Commanders Course. Such training is both theoretical and practical. He has provided presentations on the availability and capability of equipment.
Request for equipment to be brought to Abbeylara
Inspector Flynn confirmed that from January, 2000, when the unit was formed, until June, 2000, he was sergeant in charge in the technical support unit at Garda Headquarters. Specialist telephone and CCTV camera equipment was available. He did not receive any request for equipment to be taken to Abbeylara; no such request was made.
SECTION A.3 — Containment and Flexible Cordons at Abbeylara
1. Containment Expert opinion
According to Mr. Bailey, containment at Abbeylara was successful for most of the incident until John Carthy emerged from his home. Initial containment was achieved by Detective Garda Campbell and Garda Gibbons. When Superintendent Shelly arrived, he deployed armed gardaı´ in a more comprehensive containment. ERU members were thereafter placed on containment duties at the inner cordon. It will be recalled that six members of the ERU were deployed to Abbeylara, with two of those being the negotiator and his assistant. Therefore, four, including the tactical commander, were initially deployed to tactical duties. Three additional tactical officers arrived at approximately 1:00 p.m. on 20th April, 2000.
Flexible Cordons — moving containment at Abbeylara — the evidence of senior officers
The evidence of senior officers and others is that an oral contingency plan was devised to the effect that in the event of John Carthy exiting the house in an uncontrolled manner, but not posing an immediate threat to life, he should be allowed to move within the inner cordon. Superintendent Shelly stated that he and Sergeant Russell discussed the principle that the inner cordon could be maintained in a flexible manner and move with John Carthy if he came out of the house; the inner cordon of ERU members would move with him in whatever direction he went. According to his evidence, some possibilities were considered for the role of the local armed members i.e., that if a member of the ERU was shot or injured, the local armed people, who were ‘‘back-up’’, might become involved. They might also become involved if they ‘‘saw that the ERU people needed assistance’’. What they were to do in these circumstances does not appear to have been considered.
When asked whether instructions were given to the local armed members as to what they were to do in the event of the ERU moving with John Carthy, Superintendent Shelly stated that it was conveyed to the local armed officers that they were now a back-up to the ERU. He stated that ‘‘they will understand that’’:
‘‘You expect that in the event of the cordon moving’’ that ‘‘all of them would take some sort of cover and in effect allow matters progress. They knew that they were back-up and for their own safety they would take cover’’.
They did not receive any more detailed instructions and at least one of them (Garda Campbell) received no instructions at all.
Questioned on whether he gave instructions to local armed officers to move or to remain flexible, Superintendent Shelly stated that as soon as the ERU had taken over the inner cordon, he instructed local officers that they were back-up; and in doing that ‘‘it would have been conveyed to them that obviously they would have to move back from their positions, if that was possible’’. This instruction was given to
Detective Sergeant Foley by Superintendent Shelly. It was his duty to inform other members that their role had changed somewhat in that they were now back-up and that if a situation arose where the inner cordon of the ERU people had to move in a flexible manner, that they would ‘‘obviously react to that by taking cover and allowing it to develop along those lines’’. Superintendent Shelly stated that he discussed the question of flexibility and that the non-ERU members might have to operate in a flexible manner. He was questioned as follows:
‘‘Q. I can understand that you may have told your own people that the ERU might move in a flexible manner, but what I am concerned about is, what instructions were they given as to actions they should take in those circumstances, where the ERU were moving in a flexible manner with John Carthy?
A. As I said, that they would move back, allow it to progress and obviously take cover and ensure that they were safe themselves, but they would take that action anyway, but I had told Detective Sergeant Foley that once, if it was to move and that scenario was to happen, that that is what would happen. That is as far as it went’’.
Containment — evidence of Detective Sergeant Russell
Sergeant Russell was questioned as to what containment meant in the context of what occurred at Abbeylara. Containment, he said, was an attempt to ensure that John Carthy did not leave the cordon area and pose a threat to other persons. Containment existed to enable negotiations to be conducted in as safe a manner as possible and to provide as secure an environment as possible considering the danger the firearm posed. He said that it would have been desirable if John Carthy had stayed in the house. The ERU could not have barricaded him into the house as that would be totally contradictory to what the negotiator was trying to achieve. They did not wish to contribute any further to any ‘‘siege mentality’’ that John Carthy may have possessed.
Exit plan — possibility and foreseeability of exit
The evidence of Sergeant Russell and Superintendent Shelly, suggests that a plan making provision for the exit of John Carthy was discussed. Sergeant Russell stated that he had an in-depth discussion with Superintendent Shelly as to what the response should be if the subject left the house and attempted to escape. A number of issues had to be considered in relation to such a plan. One was John Carthy’s possession of the firearm. The second was his ability to use that firearm (in that regard he understood that this was his own shotgun and that he was satisfied that he had expertise in its use). A further factor was the ERU’s capability as a trained firearms team.
When he learned that they were dealing with a person with a mental illness he considered it likely that John Carthy might act in an irrational manner. It was therefore a consideration that he might come out of the house. He had been informed by Superintendent Shelly, that the subject’s mother, in reply to a query as to whether he would be capable of harm, said that she didn’t know what her son would do.
He agreed with the Chairman that John Carthy had been behaving irrationally for some time.
Controlled or uncontrolled exit — the evidence
Detective Sergeant Russell explained in evidence that the two possibilities of either a controlled or uncontrolled exit were considered. An exit is controlled if the subject is compliant and responding to the instructions of the gardaı´. Otherwise it is described as uncontrolled.
He stated that if John Carthy left the house he could still be contained:
‘‘Absolutely, the cordon is designed to contain, that is the whole idea of putting a cordon in in the first place’’.
Confrontation on exit
Detective Sergeant Russell stated that it was discussed that should John Carthy come out of the house with the shotgun in his hand, the ERU’s function was to confront, overpower and apprehend him, if that was possible, considering the safety of the gardaı´ and the safety of the subject. He stated in evidence that he explained to his men that there were a number of possible exits. The plan for John Carthy’s exit was ‘‘generic in that respect’’. He indicated that he could not have a plan so rigid that he would suggest or even nominate any particular individual to approach or disarm him. Any member of the unit who found himself in that position:
‘‘would know from their training that the first individual that came in contact would make an assessment and would ask for support or cover and the cover would train the weapon on an individual until the first member had a chance to overpower’’.
His primary function was to bring the matter to a peaceful conclusion and to avoid confrontation if possible. They did not want to engage in anything which was reckless.
Sergeant Russell also explained that built into the exit plan was a degree of flexibility regarding moving with John Carthy should he leave the house. He stated that he discussed the concept of flexibility of the cordon with his team and with Superintendent Shelly. Only members of the ERU would be involved in such a movement. He did not discuss this with any non-ERU gardaı´ but he understood that Superintendent Shelly, who agreed the plan with him, was to convey it to the local members. When asked whether he would have had any concerns if it transpired that one or more members of the local gardaı´ at the location of the telegraph or ESB pole were not familiar with the possibility that he would have to be flexible, he stated:
‘‘well, they were all familiar with the regulations, the same regulations covered the local members as members of the ERU, there is no more latitude built into the regulations to cover members of the ERU, you still have to operate within the same regulations. They are familiar with it themselves, any person who
would be issued with a firearm would be familiar with that or they wouldn’t have one’’.
His evidence was that this was part of the training of the individual officer. In such a plan, there is no line drawn in the sand. It is an extremely difficult and dangerous procedure. Echoing the expressed opinions of policing experts, he stated that he understood that one purpose of moving containment was to afford the subject more time to consider his position. The greater the distance over which it could operate, the greater the time that the subject may have to consider his position. He stated, however, one could not take the view that this could go on indefinitely.
There was no discussion between Superintendent Shelly and Sergeant Russell, or indeed anyone at the scene, as to how far in geographical or territorial terms moving containment would be allowed to happen, if it arose:
‘‘I did not indicate any distance or draw any line to suggest that beyond that point we can’t achieve a flexible cordon.’’
How far it would be allowed to continue would depend on a number of factors, primarily safety. If at any stage the moving containment plan compromised the safety of the gardaı´ or of members of the public, then a different situation would arise.
2. Expert evidence on the propriety and effectiveness of the adoption of the moving containment plan at Abbeylara
An aspiration? — Mr. Bailey’s opinion
Mr. Bailey expressed the opinion that the ERU and Superintendent Shelly were right to have planned for the eventuality of moving with John Carthy. It was a logical option for a rural area. Therefore, he did not criticise the ‘‘principle’’ of moving containment as a tactic. It was appropriate, he said, to allow John Carthy move onto the road; and for officers to continue to attempt to call on him to put the gun down and not to point it at anybody. To the extent that officers were still in contact with him whilst he was on the roadway, he remained contained. They were still exercising some degree of control over him. Although an appropriate tactic, Mr. Bailey observed that in his opinion, moving containment at Abbeylara was not developed beyond an ‘‘aspiration’’. He observed that a written plan should have been prepared to ensure that such persons knew precisely what to do. In his opinion, there was a lack of detailed planning for this contingency. (Thus, by way of example, Mr. Bailey quoted from the evidence of Detective Garda McCabe as effectively identifying a particular tactic that would be used, but which did not detail how it would be put into effect.) If armed officers are expected to act in concert as a team in a high-risk tactic, everyone expected to fulfil a role should know exactly what he has to do. The higher the risks involved in a tactic, the greater the level of planning and practice required. At no stage was the plan committed to writing and at no stage was an analysis done to be able to anticipate how officers would move. For him, it should have been proceeded with in a more formalised way; and ‘‘hopefully have had a slightly different deployment of officers at or around the inner cordon’’. Further a written plan would
have established beyond doubt what had been considered and discussed by the officers. Having listened to his evidence and seen his training records, he believed that Detective Sergeant Russell was a competent tactical officer and could achieve any task set by the commander. The evidence of the instructions given to ERU officers demonstrated Sergeant Russell was aware of his duty as a firearms commander, he said.
Mr. Burdis’s opinion
Mr. Burdis commented that the ‘‘what if’’ of John Carthy coming out armed or unarmed was considered by all of the senior officers and Sergeant Russell. For him, however, the plan was generic and not specific enough. A plan would have ‘‘looked at where officers would go ahead of where John Carthy ultimately went’’. As far as he was concerned, no one knew ‘‘who was going to take what position’’ in the plan discussed. It was suggested to Mr. Burdis that the ERU officers had to go into operation straight away when they arrived, and this thereby created a predicament for Sergeant Russell. He was questioned as follows:
‘‘how could it be possible for one to do what, I think you describe it as the ‘‘what if’’ dialogue and go through not a generic plan, but a plan that was specific to all of the possible contingencies that could emerge were John to emerge armed... isn’t that the predicament Mr. Russell found himself in?’’
He replied as follows:
‘‘Absolutely, and the first thing that should have come to his mind is that, we don’t have the space, we don’t have the opportunity to plan correctly here, so what do we do about changing that situation? How can we achieve more time and more space to undertake that type of planning? That does not appear to have happened. I would suggest that they didn’t actually need to go into operation the moment they arrived at the scene; that the premises were well enough contained, There was no immediate threat of any emergency response that was required and there were opportunities there to start the process of thinking through, what about the various plans? There was no reason why those officers that came at lunchtime on the second day, couldn’t have been part of the planning process for an emergency exit. All I am saying is that they obviously, if they went through the process, that you have just gone through, they would have realised that there were various issues that they were not able to address, and they were not able to address them because they were immediately put into action. That should have rung some bells, particularly with Mr. Shelly and with Sergeant Russell’’.
It was suggested to Mr. Burdis, that the planning was as specific as it could be and that one could not predict exactly what John Carthy was going to do. Mr. Burdis thought that, for example, three or four officers came from the house and arrived at the wall, following John Carthy’s exit. Had the incident developed beyond that, and had John Carthy moved further up the road or in a different direction ‘‘how would each of those four officers arriving at almost the same point at the same time, how would they have known who was going to move where? What would have been the
plan (a) to retain a containment of a particular part of the wall and (b) to be able to move and develop the way that John Carthy was actually moving, if he moved in a particular direction? No one seems to know and no one seems to have been told who was moving where and who was expected to move where’’. Mr. Burdis was of the opinion that what occurred were discussions and ‘‘not a plan’’. He felt that they were merely ‘‘highlighting’’ the sort of problem that might arise. This was only one part of the process of planning.
A short-term option
Mr. Bailey contended that due to the lack of detailed planning, moving containment could only be a ‘‘short-term option’’. Personnel were allowed into what should have been the sterile area between the inner and outer cordons. Inner cordon members were not briefed on specific actions and their deployment made a confrontation near the gate likely. These factors reduced the distance John Carthy could be allowed to travel to just a few feet, before he was considered to present an immediate threat to life. The officers on the road at the command post were too numerous and had a difficult route to ‘‘move out of the way’’. Once John Carthy exited the house and turned in their direction he presented a danger to them.
A written plan would have helped to identify the potential conflict between the location of some of the local officers and the aspiration of the moving containment plan.
Mr. Lanceley commented that the plan regarding the uncontrolled exit seemed to him to be ‘‘vague and lacking in specificity’’, but that if it did it was because ‘‘there was not much that they could do in the event of an uncontrolled exit’’. The plan seemed more like a hope.
The command post — diminished value of moving containment/flexible cordons plan — location of command post
Mr. Bailey reiterated that the value of moving containment is to provide additional time to persuade the individual to surrender peacefully. For moving containment to be a viable proposition, there was a requirement to have a situation whereby the subject was not hemmed in and that he could proceed in one direction for a substantial space, without encountering anyone. The containing officers are behind him and are containing in that way. In Mr. Bailey’s opinion, greater latitude could have been given to John Carthy had local officers and the command vehicle been located further away from the house. This is considered in more detail below.
Establishment of the command post — prior to arrival of the ERU
From the time of his arrival until the arrival of the ERU, Superintendent Shelly operated from the ESB pole at the boundary of the Carthy and Burke properties. He described this as a ‘‘semi-official’’ command post.
Establishment of the command post — subsequent to the arrival of the ERU
Superintendent Shelly gave evidence of a discussion with Detective Sergeant Russell and Detective Sergeant Jackson following the arrival of the ERU. Sergeant Russell had looked at the area and satisfied himself about it’s topography.
There was cover at that location in the form of a wall, a pole and a mound of earth. The ERU jeep became the command post. This was located further back from the ESB pole, on the roadway, near Burke’s house. It was not possible to see the Carthy house from the jeep but ‘‘those of us that were operating in that area were able to operate without any problem or difficulty, by leaving the jeep, and walking a short distance.’’ Superintendent Shelly continued:
‘‘it was very important for me thatI could see everything that was happening from that location. I was satisfied and I needed to be in a position where I could see what was happening; see the people; the ongoing negotiations. In other words, to have a visual contact and a visual overview of the whole scene and I had that from that position’’.
Further, communication with ERU personnel was possible from the jeep which had a radio capable of communication with ERU personnel — but not with local gardaı´. Consideration was not given to establishing the command post in any other location as all were agreed that it was in the best location.
Appropriateness of jeep as command post
In his report to the Tribunal, Mr. Bailey advised that there were different views in the United Kingdom about the most appropriate command post for a firearms incident. There are specially designed and equipped command centres, in central police stations; they are used for all critical incidents. Certain city police forces have the benefit of a suite of offices in a central police station which are used for all incidents that require deployment of a silver commander (i.e. a scene commander in Ireland). In other circumstances use is made of mobile control vehicles located nearer to the scene. In rural areas, police have specific vehicles designed to fulfil that function. Such vehicles may vary in sophistication and equipment; the minimum provided being a place where notes can be taken, radios controlled, telephone calls made and logs maintained. The essential point is that effective command is made easier if the commander has a warm, dry, safe location with a seat, desk, means of communication, space for support staff and equipment to record and document events. According to Mr. Bailey, commanders must be able to communicate with all officers at the scene and with others, outside the containment area who have a role in events. Commanders should be accessible to those who need to consult or be consulted by them, particularly in a firearms incident when rapid decisions might be required. In the absence of a specially designed command vehicle, he considered that it was appropriate to use the ERU jeep at Abbeylara as a command post. This is good practice. In his experience, commanders in the United Kingdom frequently use such vehicles as an initial command post. The jeep was dry and provided radio contact with ERU personnel.
The position of the jeep/command vehicle
Mr. Bailey’s main concern, however, was the positioning of this vehicle vis` a vis the stronghold. His experience in the United Kingdom was that the overall commander would not locate the command post in a firearms incident where he can see the stronghold. It may be an appropriate position for the officer in charge of the inner cordon. He expressed the opinion that the command post should not be within sight of the stronghold and close to the scene. To do so potentially places it in line of fire. It has happened that police officers standing close to a command vehicle have been shot at, when the subject discharged his weapon in the direction of the sound of a radio message emanating from such vehicle. He accepted that the jeep at Abbeylara was out of the line of fire from the house to the extent that, short of leaving the house, to fire on the jeep, John Carthy would have to lean across the table in front of the window in the kitchen; and aim diagonally out of the window. In the United Kingdom, officers receive instructions through training courses, such as negotiators courses, siege commanders courses and firearms commanders courses. The advice given to persons who wish to use a command vehicle, such as a jeep, is that it should be located just inside the outer cordon. This prevents unwanted visitors, whether police or members of the public. It is usually sufficiently far away from the stronghold to be in a safe place. It is usually out of line of sight; and for that reason CCTV is often added to the vehicle. Many such vehicles have CCTV monitors. In protracted incidents, such as at Abbeylara, a commander in the United Kingdom would not expect to have a constant view of the house, although he would have CCTV views available to him. He would also expect to have radio contact with all members deployed at the incident and mobile phone contact with key personnel at the scene and elsewhere; all armed officers being on one channel and all other officers on a different channel. Both channels are linked into the command vehicle; and controlled from there by a dedicated operator who logs messages and events. Thus, for example, information coming from the inner cordon (which is part of the intelligence gathering operation) will be logged in order to keep the commander aware of events at the scene. At such place, meetings will be required at predetermined times, involving key personnel. Decisions are taken and recorded. In his view the ESB pole was initially a rendezvous point. While agreeing that it was an appropriate point for armed members in charge of the inner cordon to be placed, it was too close to the scene to be used as an overall command post. In the absence of a dedicated vehicle, the commander in the United Kingdom would position the jeep over the brow of the hill or perhaps in the vicinity of the church. In that location it would have been out of the line of fire and have been safe for unarmed personnel.
While Mr. Burdis accepted that Sergeant Russell might have used the jeep as a forward command post, the difference between that and the use of the vehicle as a overall command post was that where there were a number of unarmed officers at the command post, including Superintendent Shelly. If one is planning to allow an armed and uncontrolled exit by the subject to move in the direction of a command post and a location where there are people who are not properly protected, then that results in an unsafe position: ‘‘you can’t do that, you shouldn’t do that’’. In his view, it was not the vehicle which was the problem; it was the people that were in the area of the vehicle.
SECTION A.4 — The Role of Local Officers and the Potential for a ‘‘Blue on Blue’’ Shooting
1. ‘‘Blue on blue’’ shooting
A ‘‘blue on blue’’ shooting occurs when one group of police officers find themselves in a crossfire situation with their colleagues, a weapon is discharged and a colleague is struck. A matter which has been investigated by the Tribunal is whether such a situation, or the potential for such a situation, occurred at Abbeylara. This involves an investigation and analysis of the role of local armed officers following the arrival of the ERU; instructions given to them; their understanding of those instructions and functions; and their locations and the positioning of the command post at the time of the emergence of John Carthy onto the roadway. The risks associated with potential for crossfire form part of the training of armed garda officers and scene commanders. In his evidence to the Tribunal, Superintendent Shelly confirmed that he was aware that the potential for crossfire is always present in any operation involving the use of armed gardaı´. The possibility of crossfire exists, regardless of the particular unit of armed gardaı´ that may be involved in any given operation. He stated that steps can be taken to reduce the risk of crossfire, including, the training of officers in the use and effects of their firearms. In a written reply to questions posed by the Tribunal, Superintendent Shelly stated that as the scene commander, he ensured that each group of armed gardaı´ present at the scene were aware of their respective positions throughout the operation. Notwithstanding any contingency that might arise, local armed gardaı´ were instructed to act as back-up and, if necessary, to take cover if John Carthy exited the house in an uncontrolled manner; and to allow the ERU to carry out their instructions. The distinct and separate function assigned to each group was intended to ensure, in so far as was possible, that any potential risk of crossfire was significantly reduced, he observed. On the deployment of the ERU as the inner cordon, Superintendent Shelly stated that a reassessment of the situation was carried out by him, which indicated a requirement as scene commander that local armed members should be deployed in strategic positions as a back-up cover for the inner cordon. Consequently, he stated, consideration was not given to removing the local armed members from the scene.
2. Deployment of local armed officers prior to arrival of the ERU
Prior to the arrival of the ERU, Superintendent Shelly had deployed armed officers at a number of locations around the Carthy dwelling. These local armed officers formed the inner cordon from the time of their arrival at the scene at approximately 7:15 p.m. and the arrival of the ERU a few hours later.
Mr. Bailey stated in evidence that he had no criticism of the strategic placement of local armed officers in terms of achieving the objective of providing containment. He considered that the inner cordon placed by Superintendent Shelly was well thought out, at appropriate locations, in pairs and provided effective containment. As far as he was concerned, everybody responded in an ‘‘absolutely appropriate manner’’.
3. Numbers of officers on containment duty
Mr. Bailey observed that in the United Kingdom it is considered good practice to deploy armed officers in pairs, particularly at night and when working long hours. In certain forces in the United Kingdom, where only small numbers of tactical team members are available, they may be deployed with local first responders, to provide an appropriate number of officers for such an incident: ‘‘A sufficient number is one that allows members to be stood down for a break from the constant concentration required of the inner cordon’’. Therefore, at Abbeylara, he suggested that eight persons should have been on inner cordon duties. This would have allowed officers to be paired, and to take rests. This, in fact, was consistent with the numbers that Superintendent Shelly was able to deploy when he placed local armed officers in position. In his experience, the usual number deployed ranged between eight and twelve. These persons could be part of a dedicated team brought together centrally, or local officers, who train and operate together and who are mustered for the incident. It could be a combination of both local and centrally deployed officers. In the latter situation, local officers receive additional training relating to team tactics. Where it is known that a combination of local and centrally based officers may be brought together to resolve incidents, forces ensure that they train together and that their equipment is compatible. They have the same radio system, the same firearms and the same protective equipment. He noted that there was a difference between Ireland and the United Kingdom in this regard. Ireland has one police force. There are 43 police forces in England and Wales. These are smaller units.
4. New role for local officers after arrival of ERU
Local armed officers at the scene became back-up to the inner cordon when the ERU took over that role. Superintendent Shelly, having discussed the matter with Sergeant Russell, informed his senior local armed officer, Sergeant Foley, at approximately 10:15 p.m. on 19th April, that the inner cordon was being taken over and manned by the ERU who had arrived at the scene, and from then, the local officers would act in a back-up role to that inner cordon. In evidence Sergeant Foley stated that following the arrival of the ERU he spoke with Superintendent Shelly who informed him that the ERU would take up positions closer to the Carthy household and that the local gardaı´ were ‘‘then a back-up to the ERU’’. Sergeant Foley could not remember Superintendent Shelly’s exact words, but he recalled being informed that ERU members would take up closer positions at the front and rear of the Carthy house: ‘‘we were then back-up to the ERU. In the event of John Carthy exiting the house, the ERU members would deal with him. We were told to move and allow the ERU room to deal with John Carthy’’. He was questioned on what he understood by the expression back-up and he stated ‘‘back-up in the event of the ERU requiring assistance, we were there to assist them’’.
He was directed by Superintendent Shelly to convey that instruction to other local armed officers. He spoke to Garda Boland, Garda Kilroy, Garda Barrins and later Garda Nolan, Garda Dunne, Garda Faughnan, Garda Mulligan and Garda Quinn.
The two armed local officers at the rear of the Carthy house were withdrawn. ERU personnel took up position there. Other than the two armed members at the rear of the house, no one else changed their physical position. Sergeant Foley was aware that members of the ERU had gone to the rear of the house, though he was not entirely sure of their exact position. He could, however, observe the position of other members of the ERU at the front of the house.
5. Evidence of Detective Garda Campbell
During the course of his evidence, Garda Campbell stated that he had not heard anything, or received instructions, in relation to the necessity for moving cordons; he was not told that containment needed to be flexible. Superintendent Shelly agreed that it was clear that he was not told. He, Superintendent Shelly, understood that everybody had been told. He himself did not discuss the matter directly with Garda Campbell. He accepted that it was important that everyone at the scene should be aware of the position in relation to flexibility. He agreed that if he had been aware that Garda Campbell was unaware of the need to be flexible this would have caused him concern. But he stated:
‘‘I would have thought that, by the very event happening, that flexibility would come into play anyway andI would — that nobody wouldn’t move, that once the subject moved and the ERU moved with him, that there would be movement all around and that people would move back and move into, what I would describe, as safer positions. I can’t see any situation where people would just remain static.’’
6. Evidence of Detective Sergeant Russell — back-up
When questioned as to what he understood by the expression ‘‘back-up’’, Sergeant Russell stated that it was:
‘‘to cover any eventuality, but in particular if for some reason John Carthy had actually breached the cordon and for whatever reason we were not in a position to respond, that there would be some other line of defence in place to prevent him threatening any member of the public’’.
7. The role of local officers to intercept John Carthy
In the context of their understanding of their back-up role, many of the local officers gave evidence that they understood that if John Carthy breached the inner cordon, they would attempt to intercept him. This appears contrary to Superintendent Shelly’s instructions that they were to stand back and the ERU would deal with the situation.
On his understanding of the use of cordons, and the cordon system in the United Kingdom, Mr. Bailey felt that this would be the role of a response team to a contingency and was the role of armed personnel. However, if it is feared that the inner cordon might be breached, the correct tactic is to reinforce that cordon with additional personnel. It is good practice to deploy to prevent a breach of a cordon rather than to respond when it has happened. In the context of the definition of
cordons, inner and outer, as previously discussed by Mr. Bailey, he noted a degree of confusion amongst both local armed officers and also members of the ERU, such as Sergeant Russell, as to the description of their (the local armed officers’) role.
8. ‘‘Poorly defined role’’?
Mr. Bailey indicated that from the arrival of the ERU and their takeover of the inner cordon there was a poorly defined role for the local armed gardaı´ which remained ill-defined for the remainder of the operation. The concept of a back-up role was not one with which he was familiar. He expressed the opinion that the role that they were required to fulfil was not clearly defined by them in their actions or their evidence. Thus, there were local armed officers on the inner cordon before the arrival of the ERU, who returned to the same positions after the arrival of that unit, and explained to the Tribunal that they were then on the outer cordon. In his experience cordons operate in ‘‘two’’, not ‘‘threes’’. When questioned as to whether there was anything wrong with having a second defensive line of armed officers, under whose control the subject may come, if either the inner cordon is breached or if moving containment commences; he stated:
‘‘ Yes, there is... if you have two groups of officers and put them into circles around the premises, each of them has guns and the man moves in between the two circles of armed officers, the potential for one group of armed officers to shoot the other has to be dramatically increased. That is why you have one group of officers and they are then under the same command, they are co-located and they would move to deal with any problems that occur. You may have a reserve and if the question you are asking me is, is it in order for a commander to keep a reserve of officers and to keep that reserve very near to the scene, then clearly the answer has to be, yes. The officers were the armed officers resting in the Carthy new house... in the latter part of the siege, that would be quite an appropriate place to have a small number of officers on constant relief, so that they are able to rest themselves and then relieve others. Those officers could be drawn down to deal with any incident, as indeed they did, in reality, when John Carthy exited the house. Tactically there are a number of potential difficulties in having more than one group of armed officers’’.
Mr. Burdis had experience of an armed back-up cordon operating in Yorkshire, and saw nothing wrong in principle with it — though it depended on the type of incident. However he deferred to Mr. Bailey’s greater experience in this matter. His concern was the distance between the two cordons ‘‘which I think was much too close to each other’’.
9. Risk of crossfire increased
Mr. Bailey reiterated his concern that by placing two rings of officers with firearms around the premises, with the subject of their actions potentially being between them, there is a real risk of officers facing each other; and one or other of them may open fire and hit one of his colleagues. That is why there is the tactic, and one which Mr. Bailey described as a fairly standard tactic worldwide, to have one group of
officers looking in (inner cordon) and one group of officers looking out (outer cordon). If there are reserves, or if there are officers ready for contingency planning, they should be part of the same team and under the same command as those persons comprising the inner cordon. The danger exists when you have two separate groups of armed officers. According to his understanding of the situation, two groups of armed officers moving towards each other is a high-risk tactic. In order to reduce risk, all personnel should be under the same command, on the same radio channel and briefed in detail as to exactly how they would move to effect an interception. He was of the opinion that there was ‘‘little evidence of a plan to ensure the safety of these groups of gardaı´ and to avoid a ‘blue on blue’ shooting’’. Evidence was given by all armed officers that they were aware of the risks associated with crossfire; that it was part of their training; and that they were conscious of this risk at Abbeylara. They denied that a crossfire situation occurred and pointed to the maps illustrating the positioning of officers on the roadway when John Carthy was shot, as demonstrating that such risk did not materialise. They did not accept that there were two groups of armed officers ‘‘moving towards each other’’. Mr. Bailey accepted what was put by counsel for the Commissioner that training includes the tactical planning not to position oneself where you might be in a position of crossfire. To the extent that officers on the road in front of John Carthy did run away, he accepted that concerns about crossfire were taken into account. However, Mr. Bailey felt that if, in the early stages, a better definition of the role of the officers had been established, they would not have been there, or needed to have run away in the first place.
10. Deployment of armed officers — placing of local armed officers under same command as ERU members
Mr. Bailey stated in evidence that local armed personnel were more of a liability than an asset, positioned as they were near the command post. It would have been better practice, he noted, either to include some or all of these local members within the inner cordon (placing them under the command of Sergeant Russell) or to have removed them from the immediate area of the house. However, he agreed with counsel for the Commissioner that while the best trained officers should be deployed as the inner cordon, that there could be training issues or difficulties, in marrying up local officers with those best trained officers. He also agreed that the ERU personnel at Abbeylara had achieved the highest level of skill at arms in training. He accepted that there was nothing wrong, in principle, in retaining local personnel for a firearms role, but what he considered one should not do is to position them so that they are neither one thing nor the other. He thought that it may have been possible that the location of local armed personnel at and around Burke’s house and the command post occurred by default, because no instruction was given to prevent them gathering there after the arrival of the ERU. Mr. Bailey accepted that the deployment of local officers may have been dictated by the positioning of the command post, ‘‘if their role was to be at the command post’’.
11. John Carthy’s exit and the significance of the need to exclude personnel
Mr. Bailey observed that the significance of the need to exclude personnel from the area of the stronghold became ‘‘all too obvious’’ when John Carthy exited the house. He queried, whether, with hindsight, what actually happened could be attributed to the failure to exclude non-inner cordon personnel from the sterile area between the cordons? The exclusion of non-essential personnel is something that should have been understood by the commanders. It is good practice. The reason that armed officers had discharged their weapons at John Carthy was because they feared for the safety of some of the gardaı´ near the command post jeep. Nevertheless, Mr. Bailey pointed out, that it could not be assumed that the outcome of the incident would have been any different, because there would still have been gardaı´ present when he left the house and they would have been at risk. He did not agree with the suggestion put by counsel for the Commissioner that the decision by Superintendent Shelly to foresee the possibility of a breach of the inner cordon, in circumstances when John Carthy may have been non-compliant but not threatening, and to provide a second line of armed officers, was an example of thinking ahead and could be proper contingency planning for an event that might occur. The option that was selected of allowing local armed officers to remain where they were originally, as an inner cordon, did not provide for the objective that Sergeant Russell and Superintendent Shelly had identified and were trying to achieve. Mr. Bailey did not have any difficulty with a contingency plan of having a number of officers available to deal with the eventuality which had been identified, namely that should containment not be effective, John Carthy would then potentially come under the control of local armed officers. However, the manner of their deployment did not, in his view, meet that eventuality. If local armed officers had been deployed in a different way with a stated objective, particularly if it had been a written documented plan, then he would have been in a position to agree with the suggestion. That was not done, however, and Mr. Bailey maintained his opinion that there was some confusion as to the role of the local officers.
12. Significance of location of the command post at the end of the incident
Mr. Bailey expressed the opinion that the significance of the location of the command post, at the end of the Abbeylara incident, could not have been anticipated when it was chosen. However, the closeness of the command post to the house should have been recognised by commanders and tactical officers, and caused them to relocate it further away. The location of a command post at the beginning of an incident is often selected by one individual. It is appropriate, however, for the scene commander to review the position from where the incident is being commanded. This is particularly so as the incident progresses and involves more personnel. He accepted that the evidence indicated that both Superintendent Shelly and Sergeant Russell had reviewed the position of the command vehicle; and moved it forward somewhat, to enable Superintendent Shelly to have an overview of the situation. He reiterated that he disagreed with the criteria that they used in making that decision.
13. Deployment — a command issue
The establishment of a single commander to command all armed personnel at the inner cordon means that one individual deploys his officers to achieve the tactical objective. In Mr. Bailey’s opinion a potential difficulty at Abbeylara was that the officer who commanded the inner cordon, Sergeant Russell, only had command of ERU personnel. There were other individuals at various times commanding local armed officers. The only true chain of command that he was able to identify was directly to either Superintendent Shelly or Superintendent Byrne, the scene commanders. It was, he observed, this command aspect that was important:
‘‘I think that is really the kernel of what would have ensured that only those officers required to be part of the armed aspect at the scene would be deployed, it is that command aspect’’.
Mr. Bailey saw no confusion in terms of where the outer cordon was positioned. That cordon was positioned at an appropriate distance. It provided exclusion for everybody from the scene, other than those who were allowed through. However, in his opinion, how the officers were deployed at the inner cordon was not best practice. He was questioned as follows by counsel for the 36 named gardaı´:
‘‘Q. Addressing the overall arrangement adopted by Superintendent Shelly, which permitted and indeed was designed to allow and provide for nongarda personnel to come to the scene to participate in negotiation, and fixing John’s exit, looking at John’s exit coming up to 6.00 o’clock, in the context of Dr. Shanley, Marie Carthy, Mr. Shelly being in the car, adjacent to the Walsh house just up the road, wasn’t it perfectly right that there should be armed personnel adjacent to the command post to ensure that should John Carthy escape, he could not get to such civilians to hurt them.
A. My answer to that question, Chairman, is that the principle that it is the responsibility of armed officers at the scene of an incident to ensure that the subject of the incident is unable to harm anyone, yes, that is quite correct. Whether in order to achieve that, there needs to be armed gardaı´ at the command post or whether they should have been deployed elsewhere, could be discussed, as could the point that if there is a risk to people such that they need armed police to protect them, certainly in the UK that would be flashed in big warning signs to the commander as to whether it would be an appropriate tactic for them to approve. That is what leaves me in the difficulty in providing a simple yes or no answer to the question, in that the premise on which it is asked is one that I wouldn’t have anticipated occurring in an incident had I had the command function or indeed, had it occurred in the UK because I think that the decision would have been not to provide armed gardaı´ to take people to the scene, because it was so vulnerable but not to have taken them there at all. I accept the constraints that that would have placed on the process of negotiation.
Q. It was one of those hard decisions, wasn’t it, Mr. Bailey, either to facilitate the negotiation by the bringing of the individuals or simply to exclude them and lose that option of persuading John, through friendly local negotiation, to come out.
A. Yes, Chairman, I think that would be or that is absolutely a correct analysis, it is one of the hard decisions. I hope that any of the answers I have given haven’t implied that these are easy choices, easy decisions for commanders to make because they certainly are difficult decisions to make’’.
SECTION A.5 — Observations of Garda Senior Officers and Others Regarding the Evidence of International Experts and Matters Arising from Training
In response to the observations of the experts and in the light of training received, senior officers and others were invited to respond and to provide further evidence in relation to a number of issues which had been commented upon.
1. Superintendent Shelly
Location of command post
Superintendent Shelly was trained as a tactical adviser and accepted that as part of his training he was aware of the capabilities of a shotgun. He was aware of the range of a shotgun. He accepted that a shotgun of the nature that John Carthy had, had a lethal range of about 55 yards and could cause serious injury up to a range of 200 yards. He accepted that people at the command post and the command post itself were within the lethal range of the shotgun, should John Carthy emerge on the roadway:
‘‘They were, as were everyone else, the first people who met John Carthy were the ERU people who were dealing with him’’.
He was therefore questioned as follows:
‘‘Q. In the context of your knowledge of the capability of the shotgun, in the context of the plan which you had devised concerning the uncontrolled exit and in the context of moving containment as a tactical option, in all of those circumstances, Superintendent, why did you not remove the jeep and other people out of that area, outside the lethal range of the shotgun?
A. It wasn’t removed for the simple fact that while the operation was ongoing, as I have already described how, I hope I am very clear in this — the command post, the jeep was at a location, first of all, John Carthy couldn’t see it from the house. It was safe andI felt safe there. IfI didn’t for one second feel safe operating there, I wouldn’t have left it there. The other people who were at the scene, some of them were there by
necessity, some of them at our request and people wanted to talk to John Carthy or whatever, they would be in that area, it was dangerous. I’m not saying it wasn’t dangerous, and we took every precaution that we could to protect those people, particularly when bringing these people down to speak to him. I didn’t see for one second or believe that the command post was a danger, was in a dangerous area, or causing danger, had the ability to cause danger, I didn’t believe that’’.
He accepted that the evidence of the ERU personnel was that there was a concern for the safety of the people at the command post and on the roadway beyond the command post. In those circumstances, and in the context of contingency plans to be put into place, he was asked whether the removal of the local personnel from the area was considered. He said it was not considered because he did not consider it to be a dangerous place or to add to the danger. People who were there took cover, he said — ‘‘In doing so they did the right thing.’’
The evidence of expert witnesses, that the command post should have been located over the hill or in some other location, was put to Superintendent Shelly. He stated that he had to ‘‘call it’’ as scene commander at Abbeylara, and he believed that the command post was in the right position. He certainly did not wish to do anything in the nature of siting the command post with a view to consciously or otherwise making it a source of danger. That didn’t arise, and he wouldn’t do that, he stated. Safety was paramount to him.
He had discussed the location of the jeep with his superiors. ‘‘I did tell them that I felt it was safe and it was appropriate to work from there. There wasn’t any difficulty with that’’. If somebody had said to him that he should not have it there, he would have taken that view into consideration.
Superintendent Shelly stated that one of the issues considered was the ‘‘what if’’ of John Carthy coming out the gate and turning in the Abbeylara direction. When asked whether he had made a plan as to what would happen he stated that Sergeant Russell and he had agreed that the ERU members would deal with the situation and that his officers would take cover and allow the situation to develop. They would not be involved unless, perhaps, a member of the ERU got injured. He was reluctant to call the moving containment plan aspirational, as he believed that moving containment had in fact happened, but ‘‘admittedly not for very long’’.
Deployment of local officers
Superintendent Shelly was queried on whether, following the arrival and deployment of the ERU, there was now a cordon of armed ERU officers looking inwards and then another cordon outside of them, of armed local officers also looking inwards. He stated: ‘‘certainly, you could take that from it’’. He was also asked whether the additional ‘‘back-up’’ cordon might have had any effect on the concept of the sterile area which he understood from his training. He stated:
‘‘No, I didn’t, because I knew from training that it is called a sterile area, but people have to operate within it andI didn’t see any contradiction with that and whatI was told in training and the positioning of those people’’.
While he could not say that the concept of a back-up cordon was addressed directly during the course of his training, it was however made clear at training exercises that the scene commander would take whatever steps he or she would deem necessary to deal with the situation. It wasn’t said: ‘‘don’t ever put in a back-up cordon or that should never happen’’. It was left up to the person in charge. His understanding of his training was that he was left an element of discretion and that each situation had to be dealt with as you found it. He considered that the positioning of the local armed gardaı´ in the locations where they were situated was ‘‘within my right’’ and was the correct thing to do. Superintendent Shelly further noted that when ERU personnel arrived and took up their positions, they did not have a difficulty with the positioning of the cordon by him; ‘‘and they would be a lot more highly trained than I would be, or the local people’’.
It was suggested to him, and he accepted, that discretion is exercised on the basis of either training or experience gained. He accepted that he had training but no experience. He saw no difficulty about exercising discretion as to where the back-up cordon might be located, or whether there would be a back-up cordon in circumstances where he had no experience and little training. It was a call that had to be made, he said, and he observed that many people are trained to do things in which they never have to engage in practice.
He did not agree with the comment of Mr. Bailey that local armed personnel may have found themselves at the command vehicle because no one gave an order as to where they should go or that their positioning occurred by default. They were, he said, properly deployed ‘‘and advised as to where they were now going and doing’’.
Number of personnel
He did not have any concerns about the number of ERU personnel that arrived at the scene to take over the inner cordon. He did not have any concerns about the reduction in the numbers of personnel who were manning the inner cordon. When asked whether he had no such concerns, why it was that it was felt that there was a requirement for a back-up, he stated that he felt that it was the proper thing to do. The local armed people had a role to play in this back-up role.
Superintendent Shelly had a knowledge of moving containment, that it was a ‘‘very dangerous task’’. He accepted that moving containment gave more time to people to assess the situation and more time to the subject himself to consider his own position. And that is one of the reasons that you put the moving containment plan into action ‘‘if it is considered appropriate and safe to do so’’. He also stated that he knew, in advance, that it was a tactic that might have to be engaged.
Role of local officers in moving containment
Superintendent Shelly gave evidence that the local officers had no role to play in the moving containment plan. He was queried as to whether this meant that they, the local officers, knew that they would have no such role to play and whether it was the case that they were unaware of what any moving containment plan would entail. Superintendent Shelly stated that at approximately 7:00 p.m., or thereabouts, the local officers were aware that John Carthy might emerge in a controlled or uncontrolled fashion. They were aware that they would have to confront him and totally disarm him, if he was armed in the uncontrolled scenario:
‘‘If not, that they would move with him as well. I think I said that as well, and tried to resolve the issue as best they could, given the training and the expertise that they had’’.
Thus, before the ERU arrived, local officers were aware that they might have to take part in such a tactic.
After the arrival of the ERU, it was not envisaged that local officers would take part in moving containment. At no stage, did Sergeant Russell suggest to him that the local officers would so take part. In evidence, Sergeant Russell had stated that he did not consider involving the local officers in the moving cordon; and therefore he did not think it was necessary to explain to the local officers how they would go about moving. From the perspective of Sergeant Russell, Superintendent Shelly accepted that the local armed people were not told what the moving containment plan would entail. He stated that they were told that the ERU would deal with the issue, and that they would be back-up. When the ERU took over, the local officers were not informed of what the plan was, because the ERU were going to deal with it.
It was put to him that he should have explained that the plan would have consequences and that if moving containment commenced that the ERU would be on top of the local armed gardaı´ ‘‘in quick time’’. If that had been done, it was suggested to Superintendent Shelly by counsel for the family, that it was ‘‘cryingly obvious’’ that that would have alerted them and his men that ‘‘we are too close’’. Superintendent Shelly stated, however, that he did not think that they were too close.
Each and every officer knew the position of everyone else, he observed. They knew what they were doing. He did not specifically tell anybody how to take cover or where to take it. People act on their initiative and judgement. The officers were experienced and trained in the use and carriage of firearms. They would know what to do in the event ‘‘of that unfolding’’. He accepted that taking cover in the context of firearms had specific meaning. When asked whether he had any specific discussion with his men as to what they should do or where they should go in the event of a moving containment commencing, he stated that he did not specifically tell them. He accepted that the local officers would be safe, from a ballistic perspective, behind the wall, unless John Carthy approached that wall. He agreed with the Chairman that they would not be safe behind the command vehicle, ultimately, because John Carthy would overtake the command post and then they would have no cover. Superintendent Shelly felt that the jeep would give some reasonable cover in the
circumstances. He accepted that nobody gave the officers any instructions as to the nature of the cover they should seek but stated that they would take that on their own initiative.
Crossfire — ‘‘blue on blue’’ — sterile area
Superintendent Shelly was aware of the dangers of crossfire and the potential for a ‘‘blue on blue’’ shooting, which ought to be avoided. He thought, however that ‘‘the measures put in place avoided that insofar as was possible.’’ Though he could not speak for the ERU, he stated in evidence that he felt sure that the ERU had positioned themselves in an ‘‘L’’ shaped manner to avoid that risk.
In the context of crossfire, Superintendent Shelly did not accept that when Sergeant Foley was contemplating taking action, that it involved the potential discharge of his weapon down the hill towards the Carthy house, or straight down the road:
‘‘I don’t believe when Detective Sergeant Foley was contemplating taking that action, ... it is my clear understanding that John Carthy was over at the ditch on the far side of the road, walking towards where they were, but nevertheless over, as you come out, I think, it would be on the right hand side of the road as you come up the road.’’
With regard to Mr. Bailey’s comment that there was little evidence of a plan to ensure the safety of two groups of gardaı´ and to avoid a ‘‘blue on blue’’ shooting, Superintendent Shelly accepted that whilst none of the plans were recorded, nevertheless, he stated he had a good understanding of what he was doing. His own people clearly understood what he was doing, what was anticipated and what was planned.
When asked whether he actually considered the question of crossfire at the scene he stated that he did ‘‘in the context of... every garda officer who is qualified to carry a firearm, obviously they have qualified to a high standard and they are trained . . . everyone of those people would be aware of the concept and the dangers of crossfire and if they weren’t, they shouldn’t be carrying cardholders, as we call them, and qualified to carry firearms on duty’’. He stated that the local gardaı´ knew exactly where the ERU people were and what they were going to do. The ERU people likewise knew where the local armed officers were and what they would do. Superintendent Shelly stated that you can never rule out crossfire or the danger of crossfire. It exists where groups of people with firearms are operating, but ‘‘I think everything that we did at the scene helped to alleviate, insofar as is possible, the danger of crossfire’’. He believed that the crossfire situation did not exist at the scene.
In view of the fact that it was accepted that the local gardaı´ did not specifically know what the ERU intended, he was asked how he could say that the local gardaı´ were aware of what the ERU were going to do. He stated:
‘‘from their training on how you would confront somebody in such a situation and they had been specifically told, before the arrival of the ERU: John Carthy could have come out of the house at any hour, at any minute, and from the
time that we were in position ourselves, they would be aware of that concept as well, and I believe that from their experience and training that the ERU would conduct a similar type operation’’.
2. Superintendent Byrne
Location of command post
Superintendent Byrne stated that the choice of location of the command post at the outset and during the operation was and continued to be under constant review. It was not considered appropriate to move its location. He could not say that he had any continuing discussion with anyone about the command post or its review. In a written answer to the Tribunal he stated that it’s position was under constant review though in oral evidence, he stated that he thought about it once or twice during the night. He did not think that the command post should be located over the brow of the hill or the back of the church. He felt that it was placed where they could best make use of the management of the scene and could bring third parties down to meet the negotiator. He did not agree with the observations of experts in relation to the positioning of the command post.
He was questioned:
Q. ‘‘Would you agree with this, superintendent, that had the command post been located further back as has been suggested by a number of the experts, if that had occurred, would you agree that the risk which was perceived by the two armed officers who discharged their weapons, that they may not have had that fear or risk at that time, do you understand?
A. I hear what you are saying, but it wouldn’t have been there at that moment, but it was only a couple of steps away until the next issue arose if John was pointing the gun at some person and it was believed he was going to fire’’.
Superintendent Byrne accepted that one of the responsibilities of the scene commander was to approve of plans, including break-out plans. The potential for an uncontrolled exit by John Carthy was planned for at a very early stage of the operation, he stated. Inbuilt in this plan were considerations in respect of what direction John Carthy proceeded in and also how all officers should be deployed in that eventuality. He noted that no specific instructions were given to local armed gardaı´ as to where they should move. However, they were told to move away to allow the ERU to deal with John Carthy but there was a ‘‘but’’ in that had one of the ERU people been injured or worse, that they would have been expected to assist. When he arrived at the scene, at 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday, 19th April he did not have any discussion with any member of the ERU regarding the plan, though he did discuss it with Superintendent Shelly. When he was scene commander, he had a discussion with a local garda (who came on duty sometime after 1:00 a.m.) about the break-out plan. He told him that if John Carthy came out of the house, that the
ERU were to ‘‘deal with him’’ and he was to fall back, take cover and not get in the way. He was not going to be part of the moving containment plan. He was conscious that other officers had been briefed earlier because Sergeant Foley informed him of this.
Deployment of local officers
Superintendent Byrne was of the view that the most appropriate method of command for each group of officers was a ‘‘separate supervisory process’’. He saw no difficulty, however, with highly trained personnel being in the same area as local armed officers because ‘‘everybody knew their position, their job’’.
Superintendent Byrne stated that it was always considered best practice for the subject of a siege to see ‘‘members of the gardaı´ rather than to face only plain-clothes people and to either be confused or to think maybe they are not the police’’. This is not something which was discussed with Sergeant Russell. It was something that Superintendent Byrne decided himself. He also stated that uniformed gardaı´ were not visible unless John Carthy vacated the house.
Number of personnel
He was satisfied that the ERU had sufficient personnel at the scene to maintain the inner cordon. He did not have any input into the relocation of local armed personnel once ERU personnel came on duty. However, he was told about it and accepted it. It made sense to him and he did not attempt to change or interfere with it. He had not previously come across the concept of a back-up to a cordon on any previous occasion, or in his training. He had not been in such a situation before but it seemed reasonable to him. It was a contingency plan that had something gone wrong — such as the shooting of an ERU officer — that there was a second phase of a back-up in order to ensure that John Carthy did not come in contact with and shoot some civilian: ‘‘Without having back-up the question would have been why didn’t you have back-up, so the fact is we did have a back-up.’’ He was also asked that if there was a third armed cordon that this would mean that some persons would be pointing inwards with their weapons. He agreed that that cordon was inward-looking but they were supporting the inner cordon.
Before Abbeylara, he did not have any experience of the operation of moving containment. It was mentioned as an issue in his training. He could not recollect any practical exercise. He assumed that the ERU were familiar with it because of their higher level of training. However, he was never involved in any practical training incident. He was questioned on whether it was the case that moving containment could operate for a very short space of time only given the location of the command post. Superintendent Byrne accepted this point given that John Carthy walked in the direction of Abbeylara. He stated, however, that had John Carthy gone in any other direction, there was going to be more time assuming that he did not point his gun at another person, be it a garda or otherwise. He, Superintendent Byrne, did not agree that the moving containment plan was effectively ‘‘aspirational’’. It was
suggested that this was the case because it could not operate for any great length of time given the set up and given where people were located. He stated:
‘‘No. Had John left his gun open, he could have walked past the command post. It was the fact that John presented a danger with the gun closed pointed at people that resulted in what we are here about today’’.
He was asked whether anybody ‘‘Really thought about it at the time? — i.e. what would happen or what should be done if John Carthy came out on the roadway’’. According to Superintendent Byrne:
‘‘We had to be there. In my view, we had to be there, there was no question of not being there, because I thought that was a greater evil altogether to abandon John. So we were never going to do that’’.
Role of local officers in moving containment
There was no specific discussion with local officers as to where cover might or should be taken. That was left to the individual officers ‘‘because we couldn’t tell them where to take cover because we didn’t know where the danger would be coming from.’’ Superintendent Byrne did not agree that the plan could have been any more detailed from the point of view of what local officers should do in the circumstances.
Crossfire — ‘‘blue on blue’’ — sterile area
Superintendent Byrne acknowledged that in all firearms operations, it is recognised that risk of crossfire is present and where possible this should be minimised. In addition, individual armed members are given training in respect of this. People who carry firearms are very conscious of crossfire, he stated. He was familiar with the principle of a sterile area and he said that the evidence of Superintendent Hogan accorded with his training, that is, that the sterile area provides a working environment for police to ‘‘perform whatever tactic is required’’.
Superintendent Byrne did not agree that the tactic of two armed groups of armed gardaı´ moving towards each other was employed at Abbeylara. That did not occur, he contended.
3. Detective Sergeant Russell Location of command post
Sergeant Russell was asked to consider Mr. Bailey’s evidence that the location for the command post was something that should have been recognised both by the commander and the tactical officers. He stated that the reason for selecting that position was to afford Superintendent Shelly an overview of the situation. It would also provide him with communication to the inner cordon. Sergeant Russell could remain within the immediate area for the purpose of liaising with relevant personnel. He agreed with Superintendent Shelly that the ERU should provide the jeep. However, he did not involve himself in more detailed discussion regarding other
persons in the area. Final selection rested with Superintendent Shelly. Sergeant Russell’s immediate concern was with the inner cordon.
He did not believe that it was possible to make a number of written plans for how or what exit John Carthy was going to take. Sergeant Russell stated that it may be obvious with the benefit of hindsight that he took the most obvious route. But he wouldn’t necessarily agree that it was the most obvious route at that time. They had no indication that John Carthy had intended to come out. He did not state ‘‘I am heading into Abbe ylara.’’ He did not accept that the ERU had not made appropriate arrangements or contingencies.
He did not write down plans. While acknowledging that it might be part of the policy in the UK he stated that it was not the policy of the Garda Sı´ocha´na. However, he agreed, from a transparency point of view, that this appeared wise. He told the Tribunal that he did not write down the plan and he could not put the matter any further than that.
Sergeant Russell did not believe that any plan could have been written down for what John Carthy did when he came out of the house. There was, he said a
‘‘. . . dramatic change out on the roadway. I don’t think that anyone in this room would believe that you could consider all those variables in your plan.’’
He expressed the view that he was somewhat wary that if you do write a plan and put it into place and present it to people, that in some ways they become constrained by the plan and thereby initiative is removed. He would have a concern in relation to rigidity. The Chairman stated that there was no way that the minutiae of what occurred when John Carthy came out on the roadway could have been anticipated — however, the Chairman observed:
‘‘Mr. Bailey is saying that there should be a plan if he leaves the house and heads towards Abbeylara armed, what should happen.’’
Sergeant Russell stated that he catered for that:
‘‘We talked about that in the original testimony, about the generic plan and whatI had given consideration for.’’
He agreed that it would be useful to have a written plan in the event of people being replaced. In that regard, he stated:
‘‘I do accept in theory what Mr. Bailey is trying to achieve there in relation to a written [plan]. I would have to defer to that. I have no difficulty with that.’’
He was asked, bearing in mind that there were three or four more likely scenarios on exit than others, whether he considered discussing with his officers that if he goes in a certain direction that ‘‘this is the way we will organise ourselves.’’ He stated that he did not. The plan was generic in that sense. They would rely on their training and rely on their experience in that regard.
It was put to Sergeant Russell that the reality of the situation is that when John Carthy walked out of the house at 5:45 p.m. he had breached the inner cordon within 15 seconds. ‘‘However, he did not agree that the cordon was breached. He agreed that if the cordon remained ‘‘in a static position’’, the subject would have moved out of the inner cordon but, he had briefed his officers ‘‘a flexible cordon would prevail.’’
Sergeant Russell stated that when John Carthy walked down the driveway with the gun broken open, it was a reasonable interpretation that he was indicating that he wished to bring the matter to a peaceful conclusion:
‘‘I think if anyone had actually taken action that might have militated against that, it would have been unwise. I think the officers did the right thing. WhatI asked them to do was not to do anything reckless.’’
If John Carthy arrived at the gate and put the gun on the ground, officers would have acted in the right manner, he stated.
He accepted that it was a reality that within 1 5 seconds, John Carthy was on the roadway heading towards the opposite side of the road. However, in that 15 seconds John Carthy used the time to indicate another possibility, that he may be bringing the matter to a peaceful conclusion. The situation changed dramatically in a number of seconds from the gateway to the time that John Carthy was shot. That was a very short space of time. He felt it would be impossible to legislate for that scenario and to put such a plan into action. It is only fair, he stated, to recognise that people understand the difficulties that men were faced with at those cordons. The gardaı´, he stated, exercised considerable restraint. He thought it was fair to accept that if John Carthy had carried out the actions in another jurisdiction, that he would have been shot immediately.
Deployment of local officers under a single command
Sergeant Russell did not give consideration to advising that local officers be deployed under his command. He did not agree with Mr. Bailey in this regard. As the member in charge of the ERU personnel, he knew what he was bringing to the scene and he knew the capabilities and training of his personnel. He was tasked with the role of providing containment at the inner cordon. It would have been unwise to include a person about whom he had no knowledge, albeit that they would have been trained to some extent and that they would have had their training in relation to firearms. He felt that they had a more useful role as back-up:
‘‘What caused me some concern in this is that Mr. Bailey goes on at some stages to talk about moving containment and the principle of understanding and training and all this, andI cannot understand how he could suggest that they should be in place there on the inner cordon and then what happens when one has to move with moving containment? It would be very difficult to choreograph the process, so far as I am concerned’’.
Those local officers were under the control of Superintendent Shelly. There was never a question of any member of the ERU taking control of such individuals. He did not
recall that ever happening in the past. His task was to put in place the inner cordon. He felt that there were risks involved in any such scenario, but such risks would be heightened if local officers were included under his control in the inner cordon and had been expected to perform a duty they were not familiar with.
Number of ERU personnel
Sergeant Russell felt that he had sufficient personnel at the scene when he carried out a topographical assessment of the situation. He made an assessment of the stronghold, selected positions that he felt would afford the best opportunity to observe John Carthy and to observe the exits.
He took the view that four officers was adequate. The more people you add to the inner cordon, the more confusion one would create: ‘‘effectively we are talking about a unit of 48 personnel. You can’t just throw infinite resources at these situations.’’
Moving containment — role of local officers
Sergeant Russell was asked whether he recognised the risk identified by Mr. Bailey; namely, that because of the different level of experience of local officers, that he may not have been in a position to ensure that moving containment could be carried out in safety, as the local officers may not know exactly what they were expected to do. He stated that that is why he was surprised that Mr. Bailey had suggested in the first place that he place them at the inner cordon. If they were at the inner cordon, they could get involved in moving containment. Local members would only become a member of the inner cordon in extreme circumstances if someone was hurt. It was never envisaged that local officers would carry out the flexible cordon after the ERU arrived. However, he felt sure that Superintendent Shelly had discussed such a role with them before the ERU arrived. The model under which the Garda Sı´ocha´na operates is that they all perform under the control of a scene commander. Risk cannot be precluded. It was their function to cater for the risks and to identify with and try to plan for them.
Moving containment — shape of the cordon
With regard to the concept of an ‘‘L’’ shaped cordon, Sergeant Russell did not know if he graphically illustrated its shape at the scene; but, he said, the people under his control and command would be aware of it. They would not go into an area where they would inhibit a colleague from taking action. It would be impossible for him to spell out each individual eventuality and he also observed that he could only explain to his men that they have to have a consideration in their mind. It would be next to impossible to legislate for every possible scenario:
‘‘It brings me back to the thing about the plan being generic in that respect. If one took all the exits that were available for John Carthy, the windows and the door, the areas around the house that he could have travelled to it would be impossible for me to say ‘well you have an ‘‘L’’ shape here if he goes in this way’. That is why it is in their training that they know how to fit into gaps and fit into the area that has to be covered.
Q. Chairman: You really have to, as I understand your evidence, to wait and see what he does and then you apply the moving ‘‘L’’ shape containment in the context of the terrain, the location where you have to operate in view of what he has done. Does that sum up what you are saying to me?
A. That would be a fair assessment’’.
He agreed with the Chairman that there was no doubt that John Carthy did what he did without prior warning and that his officers had to tailor their response in the light of what he actually did. He agreed that this is what underlines the value of specialist training. They could only react to the situation as it was unfolding within the plan. If for some reason John Carthy escalated the situation, then they had to react to his actions. If he decided to point the weapon there was no question of the original shaped cordon continuing:
Q. ‘‘So the fact that someone was in danger from the very point when he started walking up the road, that meant that moving containment was over, is that right?
A. I think in the manner in which John Carthy presented the weapon, certainly, the danger was too great, I accept that’’.
He felt that the ‘‘L’’ shaped cordon would have worked had John Carthy gone in the opposite direction: ‘‘If you noticed the position that Detective Garda Carey and Detective Garda Ryan and myself took at the wall, we would have ended up going in the opposite direction’’. The other officers would have followed him.
It was suggested to Sergeant Russell that the fact of him getting on the wall ‘‘and not following your training here’’ is indicative of a fact that this wasn’t consistent with a planned ‘‘L’’ shaped operation. He answered as follows:
‘‘Can I just go back to what I’ve said about John Carthy leaving the household with the weapon open? Members actually believed, and rightly in my view, they took the view that this could become, this could be coming to a peaceful resolution, it is quite reasonable for them to assume that. I had cautioned against them actually, to be still concerned until the weapon was out of harm’s way, until John Carthy was restrained or overpowered. That left us in some respects with less time because he had arrived at the gate, and you now know what happened. The weapon was closed and they knew it to be loaded, so the time to react is decreased significantly, and we didn’t have the luxury of having some more time that would be helpful in that regard as a result of his action’’.
He did not accept that the jumping on the wall was an instinctive reaction, rather than being indicative of the planned ‘‘L’’ shaped operation. It arose as a result of the dynamics of the situation. He could not legislate for every factor in a dynamic situation when a person is moving with a gun.
He was also questioned on whether his actions sat comfortably with the contention that this was a planned and carefully organised and detailed system of moving containment:
‘‘What I can say is that the plan that I put in force, while it could cater, there is no guarantee that if one was going to achieve the ultimate of overpowering him. It is a plan you put in place to cater for the possibility, but there are no guarantees’’.
The solicitor for the Carthy family made the point that the ‘‘L’’ shaped cordon was not expressly referred to until day 76 of the Tribunal when Detective Garda Sisk gave evidence in relation to same. Sergeant Russell stated that ‘‘L’’ shaped cordons have been used for many years. The ‘‘L’’ shaped cordon plan was generic. He did not suggest to Garda Sisk that this is a position to take or that Garda McCabe should take such and such a position ‘‘as long as we understand that people will fall into position and have cognisance of crossfire, that is what they would be considering’’.
Crossfire — ‘‘blue on blue’’ — sterile area
Sergeant Russell noted that the risk of crossfire is present when firearms are used and that:
‘‘you can’t eliminate that risk but you have to get people to address it, and by explaining it to them beforehand or endeavouring to heighten their awareness in that regard, one hopes they address it’’.
Members of the Garda Sı´ocha´na who carry firearms have a fundamental knowledge of the risk of crossfire. He stated:
‘‘It is a basic principle, that you wouldn’t discharge a firearm without taking into consideration crossfire implications and the risk to other persons. That is covered in basic training’’.
This is further addressed in more advanced training in which members of the ERU have participated. A person carrying a firearm always analyses his or her position. While it was true that officers may never have to discharge their weapons, he doubted that it would make them either more or less aware of the dangers of crossfire, due to their training.
He accepted and agreed with the Chairman that it is regarded as advisable not to have two groups of armed officers facing each other with a subject in the middle and he also accepted Mr. Bailey’s observations that it is desirable that one should never have a crossfire situation or ‘‘blue on blue’’ scenario, but he did not believe that that occurred at Abbeylara. He stated as follows:
‘‘When Mr. Carthy was pointing his weapon at Detective Sergeant Jackson and Detective Garda McCabe, I don’t believe that we had a situation as described by Mr. Bailey. He is saying that it is desirable that you don’t have a ‘‘blue on blue’’. I don’t believe it was a ‘‘blue on blue’’ situation, insofar as thatI don’t believe that the local members advanced on our position. It is my understanding that they took cover, as agreed with Superintendent Shelly, and they remained as back-up to the ER U’’.
He did not believe that there was a risk of crossfire or that crossfire was a major concern at that particular time. What if John Carthy had proceeded further up the road? ‘‘We don’t know how it would have transpired... if John Carthy moved further up’’; he could only assume that people would take the necessary precautions against that.
Sergeant Russell stated that he briefed his own personnel extensively, that they wouldn’t put themselves in a position of crossfire. They understood that they should avail of cover, and that they should not put themselves in a position whereby they heightened the risk of crossfire. The issue of crossfire was addressed by him when he was placing the inner cordon personnel in their various locations.
He was also asked as follows:
Q. ‘‘In terms of the actual scenario that you are faced with, is it your belief that what you did in positioning the members of the inner cordon and giving the instructions, and indicating the positions of the local armed gardaı´ that, that was in part intended to deal with not just containment but any risk of crossfire?
A. That would be correct.’’
He confirmed that he was satisfied with the position in which Superintendent Shelly had stationed the local men. There was always the risk of crossfire but he was happy that the ERU and other gardaı´ addressed the issue and that members were cognisant of that fact and that they would make the necessary arrangements. The actions of Garda Sisk in adjusting his position, ‘‘I think demonstrated that he acknowledged the risk and took alternative action’’ and that movement by him was in accordance with his training.
Sergeant Russell stated that what he understood by sterile area was:
‘‘that there be no movement at all between the inner and outer cordon, that the whole area would be completely excluded from personnel, any personnel . . . that if there was an exit, that we would have an area to operate in that area, without the difficulty of people involved’’.
He accepted that Mr. Bailey was correct in theory in saying that a sterile area is desirable. He agreed with the concept of maintaining a sterile area, but it had to be predicated on the fact that it was Superintendent Shelly’s main concern and decision that negotiations ‘‘should be driving this’’. That was the key to resolving the situation. He had in fact expressed concern about bringing people in, ‘‘I think that is evident’’. He weighed up the merits of such a strategy, and he agreed that there was a risk. They would, he said, under the circumstances have to take some risk in order to resolve the situation. On that basis civilians (used as third party intermediaries in the negotiation process) were on occasions brought into the area to try to negotiate, or to have some dialogue with John Carthy.
Sergeant Russell accepted that once third parties entered the area it was no longer sterile. The difficulty which he had at the scene was trying to accommodate the process. He could not ‘‘wave a magic wand’’ and get a third party intermediary to appear in front of the wall. There is a risk in bringing anyone down. He accepted that:
‘‘Mr. Bailey takes the view that it shouldn’t happen. I am merely saying is that I accommodated it. I knew that there was a risk. I felt that the taking an overview of the whole situation, that it probably was the right thing to do because it could have resolved the situation. Any of these people could have made a connection with John Carthy and we might not have this whole process now. I think that ifI precluded it, ifI said no, it can’t happen under any circumstances, and we had the eventual outcome, I think we would have come under severe criticism and I may have a lot of difficulty in that regard’’.
He was asked whether he advised Superintendent Shelly or Superintendent Byrne as to whether it was prudent to ensure that any unarmed member who was in the sterile area, including in the command post, should be there for a specific purpose. He advised Superintendent Shelly that they should avail of cover and take appropriate action in the event of an exit:
Q. ‘‘Yes, I think we heard evidence about that, but whatI am asking you, really is, were you concerned that any unarmed local officer, uniformed or otherwise, who was present at the scene, would be there for a specific purpose and his entry into the sterile area would be specifically controlled?
A. Well again, I had no control over that, butI assume that any person there had a role to play’’.
Sergeant Russell stated that people were in the sterile area for good reason. Mr. Bailey, he said, had given an ideal scenario where there would be no one there. He stated that they engaged ‘‘in a process where negotiation was the ultimate, the key to unlocking this whole situation.’’ He did not think it was fair that on the one hand they would be open to severe criticism if they didn’t provide third parties to try and unlock the situation and bring the matter to a peaceful resolution and on the other hand suggest that there should have been nobody there:
‘‘While he suggested we have this sterile area, you have to take it in the overall context why these people were here. I don’t think you can isolate one.’’
From the time the negotiator arrived, Sergeant Russell was aware of the dangers involved. In the overall strategy he accommodated people entering the area. He felt that he had to defer to Superintendent Shelly who was in charge of the operation. He could merely point out the dangers involved and say that there is a risk. That was the strategy that had been adopted in the beginning and that is what he wished to accommodate.
Sergeant Russell was asked whether there was any discussion about the concept of sterile area. He stated that a sterile area could not have been achieved in the total sense that Mr. Bailey referred to. They discussed cordons and the fact that people
were not to enter the area unless they served a purpose. It was not discussed in great detail after that.
The fact that there were uniformed officers in the area did not give him cause for concern. The Garda Sı´ocha´na is primarily an unarmed force, he said. It would not be an unusual feature that uniformed people would be present for all sorts of reasons for example to reassure John Carthy. He was not directing operations up at that area and he had to leave that to other persons. He was, however, concerned for everyone’s safety at the scene. He could not recall whether he made any enquiries as to what those individuals were doing. Sergeant Russell agreed that he did not speak with Sergeant Foley. He was asked whether with the ‘‘bene fit of hindsight’’ he felt that he should perhaps have spoken to Sergeant Foley and with the local armed members who were in position. He stated that he would not accept that, and contended that he should report to his superior, the scene commander, which is what he did. Sergeant Foley was working under Superintendent Shelly.
He was aware that there were unarmed persons in the area as he had seen a uniformed presence. Being armed did not mean that you were not exposed to danger; the firearm provided you with a chance to defend yourself; that was the difference.
Sergeant Russell did not see any of the local gardaı´ exposed to a risk of crossfire following the exit of John Carthy. He believed that while a risk of crossfire always exists at such incidents, he did not believe that it happened in this case.
He did not agree with Mr. Bailey that the officers should have been further back on the roadway.
4. Assistant Commissioner H ickey
Location of command post
Assistant Commissioner Hickey in his written reply to the Tribunal stated that the location of the jeep, which became the command post, was at the most suitable location in the prevailing circumstances. The eventuality of John Carthy’s exit from the house was considered. He was conscious of various options open to John Carthy in relation to direction of travel and behaviour. The ERU tactical team was deployed to deal with him. The garda response would have to be governed by John Carthy’s actions and behaviour. In the event, the ERU dealt with the threat posed by John Carthy, and the local gardaı´ took cover, as provided for in the plan. He felt that in this case people concerned did what they were expected to do.
People who were there present were trained and he thought that what he saw, in terms of the location of the command post, was appropriate.
Plans are made by scene commanders. Other more senior officers may be consulted and intervene if there is something in the plan with which they do not agree. He told the Tribunal that there was no disagreement at Abbeylara.
Deployment of armed officers — placing of local armed officers under the same command as ERU members
Assistant Commissioner Hickey was asked whether consideration was given to removing local armed gardaı´ from the scene after the deployment of the ERU. He stated that local armed gardaı´ were deployed to support the ERU, if required, and the tactical team were deployed to deal with John Carthy’s exit from the house, controlled or otherwise. Therefore, consideration was not given to removing the local armed gardaı´. He was asked whether the local officers, armed and/or unarmed should have been in the immediate vicinity when John Carthy was walking up the road with his loaded gun. He answered:
‘‘sooner or later John Carthy was going to encounter somebody on that road, and if the command post was never at that location we had personnel posted at the ESB pole. That was Detective Sergeant Foley and two other officers’’.
He did not agree with Mr. Bailey that two groups of armed officers were moving towards each other. He felt that Mr. Bailey’s comments were obvious but, ‘‘that did not happen in this situation. They were not actually moving towards each other.’’ He accepted that while it was a ‘‘possibility’’ that the two groups could move towards each other, it did not happen in this case, and it was catered for where the local people were told to take cover. He was asked whether the risk of unpredictable behaviour was addressed in the context of a situation where there was a risk of a ‘‘blue on blue’’ shooting, and he stated that it was addressed in that the ERU were delegated to take charge of the situation and local people were told to take cover.
Assistant Commissioner Hickey also stated that the option of having local gardaı´ under the command of Sergeant Russell was not considered. He stated that in the deployment at any operation there was a rule of thumb that the sergeant takes charge of between four and six officers depending on the circumstances.
Number of ERU personnel
Assistant Commissioner Hickey stated that he had no concerns in relation to the number of tactical officers used. The geography of the location was such that the premises were covered front, side and back, and this seemed to him to be adequate.
Moving containment — shape of cordon
Moving cordon, he said, was not a new concept and the shape of the cordon at Abbeylara provided that people did not get into situations of crossfire.
Assistant Commissioner Hickey was questioned about whether when John Carthy came out of his gateway and presented his weapon it meant that at that point it was too dangerous to operate the ‘‘L’’ shaped operation, being the only plan that had
been conceived. He accepted that it was a short time frame and a short distance; ‘‘Any plan was only as good as first contact’’. If you have a plan and whoever you are dealing with does something unpredictable, you have to react ‘‘as Sergeant Russell has accepted’’, in relation to what is happening on the ground. He stated that from the start that there were various elements of the plan, but they were predicated on John Carthy’s actions and behaviour. Assistant Commissioner Hickey stated further, that in some jurisdictions it may be part of the culture of police operations that a person may not be allowed under any circumstances to come outside a gate with a loaded firearm, broken or otherwise. That is not how the gardaı´ work. It is not part of their regulations and ‘‘it was impossible to predict what might happen if he came out other than in a controlled situation’’.
Role of local officers in moving containment
He was not concerned about the position of local officers because they had ‘‘ready cover and they did take cover’’. Their very presence at the location was not something which at that time he visualized as being a particular problem. He stated that ‘‘there is a lot of talk about ‘‘blue on blue’’ shooting but there wasn’t actually and people did what they were trained to do and what they were instructed to do and were conscious of crossfire’’. It was his understanding that what actually happened with John Carthy was that when he proceeded up the roadway, Sergeant Jackson and Garda McCabe were behind him, slightly to his left, and the other ERU people were up parallel to him and one ahead of them. Sergeant Russell was up on the wall to his left; the other members had ‘‘got ahead of John Carthy on his left’’. He felt that the ERU members had moved in an ‘‘L’’ shape and had not stayed static.
Crossfire — ‘‘blue on blue’’ — sterile area
Assistant Commissioner Hickey stated that an integral part of firearm training is the inherent danger of crossfire in any armed operation. He indicated that the training highlights the absolute imperative of availing of cover where necessary. In this case the officers concerned, because of their positions, relied on their training and intuition, and despite John Carthy’s non-cooperation, and in particular his behaviour, avoided crossfire. In all operations you depend on people to behave as they are trained and he felt that that is what happened in this case. Crossfire was given consideration. In relation to the formulation of a plan to deal with the risk of crossfire he was happy with the situation as it existed. However, ‘‘it is predicated on when you are dealing with a subject who is armed and possibly moving, and that is an element that complicates the situation.’’
5. Chief Superintendent Tansey Location of command post
The command post was ‘‘a convenient location for meeting and communication between the scene commander, the negotiator and tactical commander.’’ The thinking was that it was necessary to have the command post there, primarily because of the lack of interaction or engagement by John Carthy insofar as the negotiation post was
concerned. The tactic of moving containment was taken into consideration, but it was a balancing act:
‘‘The way I looked at it was that it was important to have the command post in reasonably close proximity to the negotiating cell because of the fact that no progress had been made. I mean, I think I mentioned earlier on that if progress or substantial progress had been made insofar as negotiation process was concerned, then the negotiator and the scene commander and the command post could have been moved back.’’
He was questioned on whether: ‘‘If the people at the command post had not been there, the decision to shoot by Detective Sergeant Jackson and Detective Garda McCabe may not have been made at the particular point it was made.’’ Chief Superintendent Tansey said that he did not accept that proposition.
He did not agree that the positioning of the command post minimised the moving containment option, but he stated that certainly it was a balancing act. In the context of the moving containment plan, he was asked why they had not considered having the command post further away. He stated that when the actual plan for moving containment was put in place, there was no guarantee which way John Carthy was going to exit, if he did exit: ‘‘You could not say that the coming out on the roadway was an obvious option and you had to plan for every eventuality.’’
He stated that there was no consideration given to moving the command post from its original position; it was out of range and out of the line of fire. It was a position from where activity at the scene could be observed. It was available for communication and consultation with the negotiator and the tactical leader.
It was put to the witness by the solicitor for the Carthy family that, assuming the command post was not there, John Carthy would have continued walking up towards Abbeylara and would not be in a position of confrontation with local members. He responded:
‘‘if you are associating the three armed members, local members, as being posted at the command post, that is not correct. They were actually posted at the ESB pole. So regardless of whether the command post was there, they would have been there. That was their positioning. They weren’t posted at the command post, which was, I would say thirty feet at least back from the ESB pole’’.
He was also asked:
‘‘Q. Isn’t it the case that once John Carthy was out onto the roadway, that effectively the cordon had been breached and there were going to be difficulties, isn’t that the case?
A. Well, you see, the cordon wasn’t breached in the strict sense.
Yes, he came through the inner cordon as such, but I mean the members of that cordon — they were the people who were detailed to actually take on the moving containment.’’
In relation to committing plans to writing, it was not part of his training that strategic plans ought to have been written down. It was his experience that for major events, such as major sporting events, a plan would be written down.
He felt that you could not actually ‘‘dot your i’s and cross your t’s’’ insofar as an operation like moving containment was concerned. It is predicated to a great extent on what action the subject is going to take so that it is impossible to plan for every possible scenario.
As far as Chief Superintendent Tansey was aware, the question of potential risk of crossfire was not specifically addressed when plans for the uncontrolled exit were drawn up and implemented because it was part and parcel of and inherent in any operation of this nature. All armed members received very detailed instructions in this regard during the course of their training and refresher courses.
Deployment of armed officers — placing of local armed officers under the same command as ERU members
Chief Superintendent Tansey agreed that when the ERU arrived, they took over the inner cordon and the local armed officers were withdrawn to the extent that they had no further participation in that cordon. He outlined in a written reply to the Tribunal, that the precise deployment and positioning of personnel, both ERU and local armed members, by the scene commanders in this case contributed to a reduction in the potential risk of crossfire. Positioning of local armed members as back-up to the ERU, after they were deployed to man the inner cordon, was a necessary strategy in this case. For that reason, the withdrawal of local armed gardaı´ was never considered.
He was asked by the Chairman whether it was advisable that there should have been one tactical commander in relation to the whole scene that would include all armed officers. In response he stated that the ERU were a specialised and highly trained unit. Local members would have training, but not necessarily to the same degree, and consequently to put them under the same command as the ERU was something that would not be recommended because of the training that was involved. In any team people have strengths and weaknesses. The commander who was familiar with his own officers would know precisely what the strengths and weaknesses of his team were and he could use them as he saw fit.
Chief Superintendent Tansey confirmed that a moving containment was a tactic of which he was aware. He said:
‘‘I am sure I did receive some instruction on it, insofar as theory was concerned, but I was never involved in a practical situation where it was actually implemented’’.
He stated that he was not specifically lectured on the concept of moving containment in either his Superintendents Development Course or Chief Superintendents Development Course. But it:
‘‘would be in the ordinary course of garda operations, it would be something that we would be very conscious of. I am talking about firstly in the wider circle, in other words, that one would contain a suspect in a particular area, a wider area, and then obviously you break that down as time goes on to a smaller area, and that is all to do with cordons’’.
He had never been involved in a practical exercise involving moving containment though he accepted that it was going to be a difficult operation. It required everybody knowing their part. He agreed that one of the advantages of having the ERU present was their rigorous training regime. The programme of training one week in a month is an advantage. Moving containment was necessary because of the regulations which allow for the discharge of weapons only in certain circumstances:
‘‘if, as in this instance, John Carthy came out, initially when he came out he was not an immediate threat to life, so it was absolutely essential that the moving cordon system be brought into operation’’.
With regard to the involvement of local officers and moving containment, he understood that they were to be involved only in an emergency situation. They were not to take an active part in it: ‘‘that was a matter specifically for the ERU members’’.
Chief Superintendent Tansey thought that the local officers would have had some training in respect of moving containment.
Role of local officers in moving containment
Chief Superintendent Tansey was questioned on whether it should have been an important part of the plan regarding the uncontrolled exit that local officers would at all times remain under safe cover behind walls or buildings. He stated as follows:
‘‘well, what they were retained for was as back-up. They weren’t actually told that, Mr. Chairman. What they were told was that in the event of him coming out, they were to stand back and take cover. That is the actual instructions they got’’.
He further stated that:
‘‘every day of the week, ordinary armed members are back-up to the ERU. The ERU is a small unit and if they are carrying out an operation, there would always be back-up from other units’’.
Crossfire — ‘‘blue on blue’’ — sterile area
Chief Superintendent Tansey stated that there is an element of risk in all armed operations. The potential for crossfire is ever present. However, that potential in all tactical operations is significantly reduced with effective firearms training; an acute awareness of safety at all times; the knowledge of the use and effect of the discharge
of a firearm and the deployment and positioning of personnel. He contended that such a crossfire situation did not occur and was never likely to occur.
The two armed units were, he said, assigned specific but separate roles and briefed accordingly. The fact that John Carthy emerged onto the roadway with his loaded shotgun and turned in the Abbeylara direction did not alter the potential for crossfire in any way. The same level of potential risk of crossfire existed regardless of what route John Carthy decided to take, once it was an uncontrolled exit and he was armed with a loaded shotgun.
To say that there was a ‘‘blue on blue’’ was ‘‘simply not true’’, he stated. The instruction to local members was to stand back and take cover and let the ERU proceed with the operation. They would only become involved in an emergency situation.
In relation to the position of Sergeant Foley, Chief Superintendent Tansey did not agree with the Chairman’s suggestion that this was a ‘‘blue on blue’’ situation: ‘‘If Detective Sergeant Foley was firing, then he would have been firing across into the field, he would not have been firing down the road’’.
Chief Superintendent Tansey agreed with Mr. Bailey’s observation that two groups of armed police moving towards each other was a high-risk tactic. However, he contended that such an occurrence did not take place. Plans for the uncontrolled exit ensured that the situation would not occur.
In relation to sterile area, Chief Superintendent Tansey understood that the inner cordon was a completely sterile area and in between the inner cordon and the outer cordon is also known as a sterile area. It allows, however, for police to be in that particular area and for civilian people who are assisting in the actual negotiation. Chief Superintendent Tansey stated that he would be concerned that Garda Gibbons was in this general area. He was, he thought, some distance behind the command post and he was not between the command post and the Carthy household. He agreed that Garda Gibbons was in the sterile area, but it was the sterile area to which police would normally have access. It is ‘‘not the sterile area inside the inner cordon where there is absolute sterility insofar as that is concerned.’’ He accepted that Garda Gibbons had no function in the area and that he was not part of the back-up. He had just arrived in a patrol car a few moments before that and wanted to speak to someone in that general area: ‘‘it would have been much better if Garda Gibbons wasn’t there, no question or doubt about that’’.
6. Detective Sergeant Jackson
Sergeant Jackson observed that the risk of crossfire arises in most operations involving armed gardaı´. At the outset of the operation, crossfire was a concern, ‘‘since members were required to operate in a cordon system and at reasonably close proximity to one another.’’ These concerns, he noted, automatically became
heightened when John Carthy emerged onto the roadway with his weapon. Part of the training of the ERU involved movement and cover, and an appreciation of the difference between concealment and cover. In group deployments of armed personnel there is a consciousness among officers that you do not ‘‘place yourself at the opposite side of your colleague’’ and that you take cognisance of crossfire. It is a concept expanded upon as people develop and get more proficient in firearms.
Sergeant Jackson stated that while the risk of crossfire in armed situations is always present, he was of the opinion that when John Carthy emerged from his home, the risk was ‘‘minimal’’. ‘‘From a positional perspective’’, Garda McCabe and he were, he stated, out of the line of fire of those armed members who were at the command post. From a training perspective, the risk was also minimal because people there were trained to take cognisance of the effects of their weapon and the dangers of crossfire before discharging their weapons. The fact that local officers may never have discharged their weapons did not alter this because the bulk of gardaı´, even in the ERU, have never fired a weapon in a live situation. Further the plan at Abbeylara was that the outer cordon was a back-up cordon. They were not designated to intervene except in the contingency that something happened to an ERU person.
When questioned as to whether panic in an officer who feared for his life, might result in his not being accurate when discharging his weapon, he stated:
‘‘... with respect, I was one of the central figures on the roadway and I did not observe any panic’’.
If other evidence was accurate, and there was panic, would this add to the risk of injury by crossfire? The risk of crossfire was present when you have highly trained individuals. He reiterated that he saw no evidence of panic, but if persons did panic that would be a concern to him. However, the issues of crossfire and dynamics at scenes are addressed in training. He would therefore be surprised if a member carrying a firearm did display signs of panic. He did not observe panic, he did not panic, nor did he shoot John Carthy by virtue of any panic.
His action in discharging his weapon, he stated, was not precipitated or influenced by a potential danger or risk to himself from crossfire from a local armed officer. He discharged his weapon solely on the basis of the threat posed by John Carthy. Discharging a weapon on the basis of a risk of injury from crossfire was not compatible with the firearms regulations, he observed.
7. Other non-senior officers
Officers who stated that they engaged in the moving cordon observed that they had formed an ‘‘L’’ shaped cordon. They also addressed the issue of crossfire, and stated that while there is a risk of crossfire in relation to armed incidents, it did not occur at Abbeylara. Local armed officers who were at the scene gave similar evidence. All officers recognised the inherent danger of crossfire where two groups of armed police face each other, but none conceded that any such risk had arisen at Abbeylara. All gave evidence of their relative positions vis a` vis other officers and John Carthy,
as indicative that the risk of crossfire did not exist at the time the subject was moving up the road or when he was shot. ERU officers gave evidence of the more advanced training which they received in relation to both crossfire and moving/flexible cordons. Other officers also provided evidence on these issues.
SECTION B: — Information and Intelligence Gathering, Log Keeping and Family Liaison
1. Information and intelligence gathering Introduction
It was accepted by all witnesses that the gathering of information and its assimilation into intelligence is essential to a properly run police operation.
This was succinctly put by Detective Superintendent Hogan:
‘‘when things are happening very quickly, you want to get as much intelligence as you can from whatever source you can. I think the nature of policing is such that intelligence and knowledge of what is happening is an essential part of policing in a way, but particularly in a stressful situation or if you are going to deal with a stressful situation ... In a reactive situation, you need intelligence quickly, so you get it from whatever source’’.
In strict terms, information is what is gathered and intelligence is the product of the analysis and assessment of that information, including an assessment of its likely accuracy. In the course of the evidence and submissions made to the Tribunal, these definitions were sometimes used interchangeably and in particular on many occasions what should be more strictly called ‘‘information’’ was referred to as ‘‘intelligence’’, but in these cases the sense of what was meant was clear.
The approach taken by the scene commanders
Superintendent Shelly informed the Tribunal he was the person who received intelligence from the various officers and he was the person to assimilate all information. He assumed responsibility for any intelligence that came into the scene. He said he ‘‘felt comfortable’’ that he was ‘‘well able to manage that’’ and he ‘‘was happy with the decisions he made’’. He did not think that in the light of his other responsibilities, taking on the intelligence function himself was onerous. He said that he ‘‘didn’t feel under pressure’’, and that he felt he was ‘‘more than able’’ to handle the responsibility.
It will be recalled that Superintendent Shelly was not the local District Officer; he assumed the position of scene commander on 19th April as Superintendent Byrne, the District Officer with responsibility for the Granard area, was in Dublin attending a course.
Superintendent Byrne said that when he came on duty as scene commander at midnight on 1 9th of April he looked at the question of the scene commander being responsible for the gathering of information and the assimilation and assessment of the information gathered, and decided that the scene commander ‘‘could manage the intelligence gathering’’. In his review of this issue he stated that he discussed the matter with Chief Superintendent Tansey, Superintendent Shelly, Inspector Maguire and others.
Superintendent Byrne said intelligence gathering was co-ordinated initially by Superintendent Shelly, while he was scene commander, and then by himself when he took over.
When asked whether he was concerned that the scene commander was taking on the burden of gathering and collating intelligence, Chief Superintendent Tansey said that the scene commander had plenty of people around him to assist and he gave as examples, Sergeants Dooley and Mangan and later Garda Gibbons and that it was not unusual for the scene commander to take on this role.
Keeping of a log and recording the information as gathered
Superintendent Shelly commenced the keeping of a log of events at approximately 10:00 p.m. after the arrival of the Emergency Response Unit. This log was taken over by Superintendent Byrne when he came on duty and was again taken up by Superintendent Shelly when he returned to duty as scene commander on the morning of 20th April. The entries include some factual matters, certain instructions given to various officers and some of the information received from other parties, both gardaı´ and civilian; it is not complete.
Log entries were not always made contemporaneously in the wider context of it being a scene commander log and in the narrower sense of it being an intelligence log. It was subjected to criticism by policing experts, which is dealt with herein.
The evidence of Chief Superintendent Ludlow
Chief Superintendent Ludlow informed the Tribunal that in the Operational Commanders Course given as part of the Superintendents Development Course, the importance of intelligence and information gathering was emphasised; particularly in the practical exercises that are conducted as part of this course.
On such courses instructions are given on the keeping of logs and the recording of information, particularly in aspects of the courses involving armed operations.
The evidence of Detective Superintendent Maher
Superintendent Maher lectured on the Superintendents Development Course. He said that in the context of discussions and lectures on the scene commander’s duties, instructions were given on the importance of the scene commander selecting
appropriate officers to take charge of different facets of the operation (such as cordons, negotiation, firearms, etc.,) together with the appointment of dedicated liaison officers. The delegation of intelligence gathering was stated by him to be an important function and that such intelligence as gathered should be available at the forward control point.
Superintendent Maher referred to the concept of an intelligence cell which was dealt with as part of a lecture delivered by him on the Hostage Negotiation Course. This is a cell where all relevant intelligence in relation to an incident could be gleaned and analysed and from which it could be disseminated. Relevant intelligence would include all information in relation to the subject of a siege so that a profile of a person could be created and developed. Superintendent Maher said that local detectives would be ideal persons for this role in a rural setting as they are the personnel who usually have knowledge of the individuals involved. The intelligence operation should be co-ordinated by a senior police officer typically the local detective sergeant, and he or she should have a responsibility for feeding the information and intelligence to the scene commander. He said that the intelligence cell may be located at the base station and the information sent forward to the scene commander by the intelligence co-ordinator. The base station would more than likely be the local garda station.
The evidence about their training on questions of information and intelligence gathering given by Superintendents Shelly and Byrne
Superintendent Shelly said that he was told during his Operational Commanders Course as part of the Superintendents Development Course that the gathering of information was very important in an operation and the guidelines as to how to deal with that were explained to him. He said that:
‘‘basically the establishment of an intelligence cell at the scene may be something that would be considered or should be considered by the people in charge, basically the operational commander’’. There was nothing written in stone he explained but, ‘‘obviously the principle of being aware of what was happening and gathering as much intelligence as you could was paramount to the success in any operation’’.
When questioned on whether he received guidance as to the circumstances in which it would be advisable to establish an intelligence cell, he stated that every case would be different. He explained that the length of the operation, and the likely continuing length of the operation were important factors in determining whether an intelligence cell would be required. He understood from his training that it was for the operational commander to reach a decision on that matter based on these factors and also on the amount of intelligence with which one would be required to deal.
Superintendent Shelly said that specifically in a siege type situation such as that at Abbeylara, guidance was given during the course of his training as to the circumstances when it would be advisable to establish an intelligence cell. Circumstances would depend on the particular incident that one was dealing with, and that a scene commander ‘‘would have to make a judgement call on that, as I did
at Abbe ylara when I was dealing with the issue there’’. He stated that that is what he understood and took from the training he received. He agreed that the importance of gathering intelligence was stressed on the courses and he described the gathering of intelligence as a ‘‘fundamental principle’’. He agreed, echoing the evidence of Superintendent Hogan, that when a situation is ‘‘foisted upon you as Abbe ylara just happened, then obviously you want to get intelligence, as quickly as you can get it, and find out as much as you can, as quick as you can’’. It was within his training, he said, and it was open to him to establish an intelligence cell and to appoint an officer to take charge of that cell. When asked as to whether at Abbeylara he gave consideration to the establishment of an intelligence cell, he stated that he took on the responsibility himself, and that any intelligence that came into the scene, came to him as scene commander, and that he dealt with it. When questioned whether there were benefits in establishing an intelligence cell headed by an intelligence officer, and whether any such benefits were explained to him during the course of his training, he stated that they were so explained to him. However, he repeated that what he took from the course was that there ‘‘was nothing written in stone in relation to it’’. He contended that he was ‘‘well able to deal with the intelligence that came to me’’. The benefits in the establishment of an intelligence cell that were described to him in the course of his training were, he said, that if one was getting a lot of intelligence from a lot of different sources, that there is someone to deal solely with the information.
Superintendent Byrne stated that his training was similar to that received by Superintendent Shelly.
The Experts’ views on information and intelligence gathering
Mr. Bailey stated that in the United Kingdom scene commanders appoint individual intelligence officers for the incident. Their role is to gather information about the subject of the operation, the location, the weapons, motivation, family, friends, medical history, etc. Gathering of information is both self-initiated and in response to tasks set by the scene commander, to whom the intelligence officer reports. The intelligence officer gathers and collates information which is subjected to a process of cross-checking and assessment, the intention of which is to provide the commander with a view of its likely accuracy.
Mr. Bailey stated that information specific to the incident begins when the police first become aware of the incident. There is, however, often information and intelligence in the form of personal knowledge of individual officers and official records that exists before the incident begins. Collecting such details and actively seeking further intelligence are a significant contributing factor in the decision-making process. In the early stages of an incident, he stated, information may be recorded at the scene, at the radio control centre or at the initial command centre. As the incident develops, he stated that it was good practice to entrust the collection, evaluation, storage and retrieval of information and intelligence to one individual.
An illustration of what he perceived as a failure in the intelligence system was the fact that Detective Sergeant Jackson sought medical information in the early hours of Thursday 20th April, although Dr. Cullen, from whom he was seeking that information, was one of the first on the scene when the incident commenced. Mr. Bailey thought that a successful intelligence officer would have obtained medical information from the doctor at the beginning of the incident and arranged to recall him in the event of additional information being required. He also believed that some information was obtained from Dr. Cullen in the early stages of the siege but it was not recorded in a way that could have been used at the command post to inform the decision-making process, e.g., Dr. Cullen’s understanding about John Carthy’s antagonism towards the police and his partial information on the subject’s mental history.
Mr. Bailey explained that in his opinion the absence of an intelligence cell rendered more difficult the gathering of information in a structured manner, but also rendered it more difficult in deciding which information was significant and which should have influenced decisions taken. An example which he gave of this was that in the early stages of the siege little or no significance was attached to the link between Detective Garda Campbell telling John Carthy that Dr. Cullen was outside in the car, and the shot fired which struck the wing of the patrol car in the driveway. It was not until some time later that it was established that John Carthy was reluctant to return to St. Loman’s hospital, which was what he might have considered the likely result of seeing Dr. Cullen.
Mr. Bailey explained his view that the analysis of information gathered early in the incident is one of the roles of the intelligence officer and involves ‘‘looking for links’’ with other intelligence or events that occur later. A successful intelligence cell should review intelligence and events and inquire why any particular individual ‘‘did this’’ or ‘‘said that’’. Trying to obtain answers to such questions is illustrative of the tasks of the intelligence cell. He believed that the scene commander should have the intelligence cell co-located with the command post whenever possible, so as to facilitate the continuous flow of intelligence which would inform the decision-making process. The intelligence officer is an adviser to the commander and attends meetings to review the progress of the operation and to provide reports of intelligence gathered. At such meetings he also receives requests for information required.
Mr. Burdis was particularly concerned about the failure of the senior commanders to properly establish a formal intelligence gathering mechanism and an intelligence cell. He thought that, in fairness to Superintendent Shelly, ‘‘it is the system’’ that should have ‘‘automatically required an intelligence cell to be established’’. Superintendents Shelly and Byrne, he observed, carried intelligence in their heads, having appointed themselves as intelligence officers. He pointed to difficulty in relation to this in that the specific pieces of information that had been obtained by Garda Reynolds from Mrs. Rose Carthy on the morning of Thursday 20th April were not recorded in the scene commander’s log. Additionally there was no record in Superintendent Shelly’s log of Inspector Magu ire’s conversation with Mr. Walsh on the question of a solicitor.
Mr. Burdis believed that the scene commanders failed to make use of senior detectives. Thus, for example, an officer should have gone to the local authority to see if a plan of the house existed, particularly when Sergeant Dooley failed to get any reliable plan from the family. Mr. Burdis believed that there was considerable information to be obtained from the family, John Carthy’s friends, his medical advisors and from records of the Garda Sı´ocha´na which were not obtained or recorded in a collective way. He pointed to the fact that it should not have been the responsibility of senior officers to look at the gun restoration file. This was a function for an intelligence officer. He also thought that by failing to appoint an officer or officers to collate and analyse any of the intelligence available, the operation was always going to ‘‘struggle’’. He thought that there appeared to have been no general management of the data; no assessment of what was effective and what was not, and no indication that intelligence played any part in assisting Superintendent Shelly and others to determine their strategies. Additionally there was little evidence to indicate how material was provided to Sergeant Jackson, other than to say that he was meant to ‘‘make of it what he could’’. Mr. Burdis thought that because much of the information was not developed or documented in a way that could be properly analysed, it was difficult for the senior officers to look at the advantages or disadvantages of adopting a particular line, and of allowing Sergeant Jackson to think through the best way of raising issues and opening topics of conversation during his negotiation. He thought that on many occasions Sergeant Jackson was left totally alone to determine how best to deal with a particular issue. An example he gave of this was the question of Kevin Ireland. He was concerned there was no attempt to properly debrief Mr. Ireland and there was little, if any, analysis made of what John Carthy had actually said insofar as it may have reflected his state of mind.
In relation to the officers who were asked to speak to the family, Mr. Burdis thought that they were not properly briefed. He believed that no proper record was maintained of conversations with the family. There was no collective record of what the family had said to the gardaı´ and no means of maintaining a record of what the negotiator had said. He was concerned that there was no written record of who Mr. Carthy’s friends were, and what they had to say about him. Insofar as the request for a solicitor was concerned, Mr. Burdis thought that an intelligence officer would not have been satisfied with a ‘‘I don’t know’’ type response from the family members and would have probed beyond that, particularly as the family was likely to have retained a solicitor in connection with the provision of the new house. Further, Mr. Burdis noted that there was no proper evaluation of the written material available in the garda station, insofar as this was read or examined.
Both Mr. Bailey and Mr. Burdis were of the view that the local officers released from cordon duty by the arrival of the ERU were ideally suited to be employed as information gatherers.
Mr. Lanceley said that in the United States a formal intelligence gathering effort would have been established at the command post and an officer assigned to oversee and co-ordinate that effort. As intelligence was gathered, it would be placed
on situation boards and disseminated to each component of the various management teams, i.e., the negotiation team and the command staff. This would apply even in simple incidents and situations. He pointed out that the benefit of adopting this approach is that everyone has access to the same information.
Dr. McKenzie stated in evidence that best practice suggests that the gathering of personal and sometimes intimate information about a subject in a siege is of critical importance. He thought that information about the most effective way of dealing with John Carthy was available from his family who had some years of experience of dealing with him in times of mania and in periods of depression. Details were available of solicitors used by John Carthy and his family. He thought that best practice would dictate that following the delayed transmission of information about the telephone call from John Carthy to Kevin Ireland, and regardless of the reliability of his reporting of that conversation, Mr. Ireland should have been urgently interviewed and debriefed, if only to deal with the problem of what amounted to hearsay at third remove.
Other matters which emerged in the evidence
In the course of the evidence on the issue of information gathering and intelligence, a number of specific areas of criticism emerged on certain key issues. Some of these have been referred to in the summaries of the experts’ views. Specific areas that were identified and explored by both the experts and by counsel for the Tribunal, and the parties, included the fact that Superintendent Shelly alleged that he did not learn at an early stage of Dr. Cullen’s comment to Garda Gibbons about John Carthy’s attitude to the gardaı´; the fact that Dr. Cullen was not interviewed in a comprehensive way as a matter of urgent priority; the fact that the gun licence file in Granard garda station containing Dr. Shanley’s letter was not examined until the following morning; the fact that the file in connection with John Carthy’s arrest for the burning of the goat mascot was not identified and examined; the fact that Kevin Ireland was not interviewed; the fact that Dr. Shanley’s involvement was not ascertained or identified at an early stage; and the fact that none of the solicitors who had acted on John Carthy’s behalf in the past or solicitors who had acted for the family were identified.
That Mr. Ireland was not contacted or debriefed represents a focal point of criticisms made in this area, in that this led to reliance by Superintendent Shelly on the information conscientiously given to him by Ms Leddy, which information he treated as accurate, notwithstanding that it had come through a circuitous route and was third or fourth hand. Two aspects of this were relevant; the first being that Kevin Ireland stated in evidence that in response to a request from him to John Carthy not to do anything stupid like shooting himself or anyone else, that the subject said to him that ‘‘He hadn’t a notion’’ and that he was ‘‘just trying to keep them away from the house or something’’. The second point is that Superintendent Shelly said that Ms Leddy reported to him that Mrs. Mary Ireland, Kevin Ireland’s mother, from whom she had received the information, had told her that her son had informed her (Mrs.
Ireland) that John Carthy had said something about ‘‘watching this space’’. It seems that this was not said in the telephone conversation between John Carthy and Mr. Ireland but rather in an earlier conversation between John Carthy and Mr. Ireland prior to 19th April and in the passing from person to person the two conversations had become confused. In relation to the first point, i.e., that John Carthy hadn’t a notion of injuring anyone; this was not communicated to Superintendent Shelly or to the negotiator; and the second, insofar as it purported to have occurred in a telephone conversation that day, which was not so, was communicated to the negotiator Sergeant Jackson.
It was suggested in examination, most particularly of Superintendent Shelly, that the erroneous steps in relation to this information that were taken on foot of incomplete knowledge of the telephone conversation between John Carthy and Mr. Ireland could have been avoided if Mr. Ireland had been properly debriefed by an experienced officer who was familiar with events at Abbeylara and the intelligence thereby gleaned, analysed and assessed by an intelligence cell. It was urged that this was a stark example of the benefit of setting up such an intelligence cell as suggested by the experts and by the training provided by the Garda Sı´ocha´na. Sergeant Monahan who had spoken to Mr. Ireland when he telephoned Granard station, had not been involved in the Abbeylara siege and had no contact with Ms Leddy or Mrs. Ireland.
On this topic Superintendent Shelly agreed that it would have been better to have checked out the information by contacting Mr. Ireland.
In relation to many of the criticisms and comments from the experts, Superintendents Shelly and Byrne purported to deal with these by saying that they believe that they had complied with their training in that it gave them a discretion as to whether or not an intelligence cell and a dedicated intelligence officer were necessary, and they decided that they were not; a judgement with which they remained content. They formed that opinion and did not comply with the training they had received though neither had any prior experience as scene commanders or an armed siege situation or any experience of contending with a dangerous person motivated by mental illness.
2. Log Keeping
The experts, particularly Mr. Bailey and Mr. Burdis, had criticisms and comments to make on the style and standard of log keeping at Abbeylara. These criticisms were not confined to the failure to keep a separate intelligence log, but were broader in their application, in that they dealt with the overall question of the logs, including the fact that they were kept by the scene commander. Accordingly, insofar as it has not been dealt with already, it is convenient to deal with the general question of log keeping here.
The Experts’ views
Mr. Bailey thought that there were only so many things that can happen at a firearms incident and he said that it was accepted good practice to prepare record books in advance. These could be pre-printed in bound volumes and provide a chronological log of the incident and act as an aide me´moire to controllers and commanders. This ‘‘firearms log’’ would contain details of the original call to the police, the immediate response, subsequent actions, intelligence required, plans made and decisions taken. This record would be dated, timed and include options considered and rejected as well as the information and intelligence on which the decisions for selection of tactics chosen were based.
Mr. Bailey said that this documentation process should continue throughout the incident with each piece of intelligence being considered against the plan and contingencies to ensure that the appropriate decisions were taken. He said it was usual for the scene commander in the three tier system of ‘‘gold, silver and bronze’’ (this is discussed in detail in Chapter 10) to call meetings at regular intervals to review the progress of the incident and obtain the views of those able to advise him about the suitability of the plans, contingencies and tactics currently agreed. These meetings, he said, should be documented and the decisions recorded, thereby adding to the audit trail of the decision making process. In referring to the evidence of Chief Superintendent Ludlow, to the effect that the importance of keeping logs and recording information was a feature on which newly promoted superintendents would receive training in the course of their Superintendents Development Course, Mr. Bailey found it hard to reconcile the evidence given by Chief Superintendent Ludlow with what he thought was the failure to keep proper logs during the incident at Abbeylara. He thought there was poor quality in the details of what ‘‘passed for logs’’ at Abbeylara, which was not consistent with the description of the training given by Chief Superintendent Ludlow.
Mr. Burdis expressed the opinion that the log keeping was very intermittent and incomplete, and that what notes were kept by Superintendents Shelly and Byrne were open to different interpretations. He thought that it was impossible for Superintendent Shelly to assimilate all the information he was receiving, and to evaluate and determine policies single-handedly. He believed that Superintendent Shelly had no prospect of ever being able to maintain a comprehensive log, and that a full time log keeper would have resolved the problem of recording the data and it would also have had the benefit of providing access to the data for a wider variety of senior and junior officers, and would form the basis of developing an intelligence strategy which would have allowed contingency plans to be worked on by a number of officers at the same time. Mr. Burdis said that a paper or computer based log would have ensured that every officer received the same material of briefings and that those briefings would have been available at all times, not just when Superintendent Shelly could find time to give them. He thought that as a senior
commander, pressures of the moment are often too demanding and too great to be constantly stopping to make notes.
The evidence about their training on the question of log keeping given by Superintendent Shelly
Superintendent Shelly said that in his training during the practical exercises, the person playing the role of scene commander had a loggist with him. His training informed him to maintain a written log but that the appointment of a loggist was an option open to the scene commander, depending on the circumstances with which he was dealing. Superintendent Shelly took the view that the log that he maintained met the requirements given to him during training by keeping a note as accurately as possible of everything that was happening, and of the information coming into his possession. He did not agree that it was difficult for him to keep a log, in circumstances where he had other duties and functions to perform. He said that as he was the person who was getting the information, he was the person to make the record and that that ‘‘was the best way to do it’’.
In summary on the question of log keeping, Superintendent Shelly said:
‘‘I think that, it is my own view you can either agree with it or disagree with it, butI think anyone who had a look at the log that we maintained at the scene — when you talk about future such incidents, or whatever — that they would say that they were well kept and they were detailed and they did have a good overview of what had happened’’
When Mr. Bailey’s criticisms of the log keeping, as outlined above, were put to Superintendent Shelly he said that ‘‘well, I don’t agree with him, it is as simple as that. I believe I kept a proper log at the scene, as did my colleague, Superintendent Byrne’’, and the former went on to say that he believed that the log that was kept was consistent with the training that he received. When it was put to Superintendent Shelly that it would have been more effective to have a loggist doing all this for him, he replied: ‘‘you could argue that, but as I said, I felt comfortable with what I was doing andI certainly felt that the log that was maintained was detailed and, indeed, was effective’’.
Other matters which emerged in evidence — the log kept by Detective Garda Sullivan
The other log that existed was that kept by Garda Sullivan. He informed the Tribunal that he was directed by Sergeant Jackson at the outset of the operation that he (Garda Sullivan) would be an aide to him and that this function would include note taking and liaising with the scene commander, together with such other duties that might arise when they arrived at the scene and became familiar with requirements.
Garda Sullivan did take a note. He was asked in evidence the purpose of the note and the reason why it came into existence. He said that the notes were ‘‘not meant to be a detailed account of what happened in the totality of the event and that is not whatI understood my role to be in taking a detailed note, they were not meant to be
an evidential log of events. They were taken, if you like, under difficult circumstances andI did my best to record as contemporaneously as possible some of the events that I was present for during the course of the event’’. He explained that an evidential log is one that consists of a complete and accurate record of everything that occurs at the negotiation point — this was not the type of note he was taking.
He went on to state that he confined himself to recording events that occurred or comments that were made while he was there, or comments made by John Carthy of which he was informed by Sergeant Jackson. He said that there were many happenings that were not recorded by him in that he didn’t see that it was possible for him to record every utterance and every movement that John Carthy made.
He was aware that standard operating procedures required the scene commander to keep a log, but he never saw that log, even to the time when he gave evidence to the Tribunal. He saw his log as providing some sort of time-scale of happenings as witnessed by him or events for which he was present, recorded so as to assist Sergeant Jackson while he was negotiating.
3. Family liaison
Mr. Burdis described the historical perception from which the concept of family liaison grew. The current position in the United Kingdom is that family liaison officers are appointed where there is extreme trauma to family members. The intention in the appointment of family liaison officers is that they have a dual role. The first role is of reassurance to the family about the process and what is taking place. The second role is that such an officer, in the course of conversations with the family over a period of time, may gather intelligence and identify areas that might require further explanation, or that might provide further information and intelligence for the operation, whether from the point of view of negotiations, or tactical strategy.
Sergeant Mangan, one of the officers who spoke to members of the family, including Mrs. Rose Carthy, in the Mahon house over the period of the incident, appointed Garda Cunniffe as the family liaison officer. Garda Cunniffe had no experience or training as a family liaison officer. She had recently qualified as a police officer and Granard was her first assignment. She received no instructions on what her function was with the family. She was inappropriate for the role of family liaison officer. She did not know what information she should seek or might be able to obtain. She took up duty at approximately 10:30 p.m. on 1 9th April. Garda Cunniffe’s involvement and the state of her knowledge has been dealt with in Chapter 4.
While giving evidence in connection with this appointment Sergeant Mangan said that she ‘‘saw her [Garda Cunniffe’s] role as being a support to the family. That if they had any questions or any worries or whatever, that she would be able to either answer the questions or get the information they were looking for, and also that information would be fed back through her to the family as a link and she would become a familiar face to the family.’’
The evidence of Superintendents Shelly and Byrne
In his evidence Superintendent Shelly agreed with the general proposition that a family liaison officer was someone who not only imparts information to the family but also acquires information from the family. He said that this was a concept that was well known within the Garda Sı´ocha´na; a point which is also clear from the evidence of Superintendent Byrne.
The evidence on family contacts
In addition to the appointment of Garda Cunniffe as liaison officer, a number of other officers had contact with the family gathered at the Mahon household. These included Sergeants Dooley and Mangan and Garda Reynolds. Their evidence has already been outlined.
In particular it should be noted that when Garda Reynolds went to the Mahon house at approximately 8:30 a.m. on 20th April, he did not know at that time that John Carthy had a mental illness.
The Experts’ views Mr. Burdis
Mr. Burdis thought that both Sergeant Mangan and Garda Cunniffe had been helpful in supporting the family but they provided little real intelligence. He believed there was no indication that either Sergeant Mangan or Garda Cunniffe were briefed in detail as to their role or about the importance of any focused intelligence gathering that could have been of value to the negotiator in bringing about a peaceful conclusion to the situation. He said that he found no indication that any form of log or note was being kept of the discussions with the family by members of the gardaı´. He thought that a full-time family liaison officer should have been appointed. He noted that Garda Cunniffe came off duty at approximately 3:30 a.m. on 20th April, 2000.
An illustration of the failure to fully brief Garda Cunniffe, who had been appointed as the liaison officer, was that during her time in the Mahon house she did not receive any information from the scene. She returned to the Mahon house at approximately 8:30 a.m. on 20th April and remained there until 11:00 a.m., but neither at the time of her return was she aware, nor during the period of her stay there did she become aware, that John Carthy had made specific requests, in particular requests for a solicitor and cigarettes. She said she was not in a position to give the family any further information as to what was happening.
Mr. Lanceley said that in the United States sometimes a family liaison officer is assigned to the family and in some cases may even move into their home for the duration of the incident. This officer stays with the family to pick up on information of use to the crisis management team and relay the information to the intelligence officer.
He said that another useful purpose for assigning an officer to the family is to gain the trust and confidence of the family. A final benefit of assigning someone to the family is that no one ‘‘gets lost’’. He instanced here the ‘‘losing’’ of Mr. Martin Shelly. This has been addressed in detail in Chapter 4.
The scene commanders’ evidence on, and their response to, the criticisms
Superintendent Shelly agreed that Garda Cunniffe was not told that John Carthy had made a request for a solicitor, which request had occurred approximately an hour after her appointment as family liaison officer. It was suggested to Superintendent Shelly that the full use and benefit of a family liaison officer would only arise if he or she was fully briefed and fully informed about what was going on at the scene. He agreed and said he thought that Garda Cunniffe knew exactly what was happening, explaining that in his view her knowledge came from the fact that she had been at the scene and should know what was happening, saying that ‘‘everyone there knew about it, what was happening, so I am sure Garda Cunniffe was no exception’’.
Superintendent Shelly agreed that the police officers who brought Ms Carthy and Mr. Shelly to Devines’ house should have been instructed to inform the scene commander of their whereabouts.
Superintendent Byrne said that during his period as scene commander he did not pass any information to either Sergeant Mangan or Garda Cunniffe to convey to the family, and he did not receive from them any information from the family. He was unable to comment on whether Sergeant Mangan or Garda Cunniffe were fully briefed, in that they had been appointed by Superintendent Shelly before his arrival. He did say that he did not have any discussions with either Sergeant Mangan or Garda Cunniffe during the night.
Superintendent Byrne did not have a satisfactory answer as to why Mr. Martin Shelly could not be located after John Carthy had agreed to speak to him or what efforts were made to locate the witness.
SECTION C: — Negotiations
When asked in evidence as to what he saw as the essence of negotiation, Detective Sergeant Jackson said that in relation to incidents such as Abbeylara:
‘‘it is about interaction with the individual; getting involved with them and trying to open up a reasonable degree of dialogue with him. Having said that, if there is a difficulty in that area, it may involve, as I said, some degree of reasonably constant dialogue to try and reassure the individual inside as to the motivation of the guards for being there and an acknowledgement of the person’s fear of the consequence of their action and maybe of coming out. So, in this particular case, that would be the essence of it’’.
He then went on to agree with some general principles which had evolved for the conduct of negotiations, such as empathy and building rapport; building trust; being able to deliver on what you say you are capable of delivering on, as best one can; not misleading or telling the subject anything that is untrue or a lie; a willingness to compromise with the subject, in the context of an assessment of the individual factors and dynamics in each case; clear lines of communication; obtaining as much accurate information as possible, by way of background, from the subject himself; and ensuring that the negotiation did not deteriorate into a contest of wills.
The experts who dealt with negotiation issues were Mr. Lanceley, Dr. McKenzie and Mr. Burdis and to a limited extent, Mr. Bailey, who had certain comments to make on the location of the negotiation post.
1. The techniques
Sergeant Jackson said that at various times in the course of his negotiations he utilised the following techniques in his attempts to engage with John Carthy:
i A strong sense of empathy, showing that he understood and appreciated John Carthy’s feelings.
i Attempts to defuse the subject’s intense emotions, to try and reduce him to a more rational working level so as to allow him to interact with Sergeant Jackson. This involved engagement with John Carthy by displaying patience and understanding.
i An attempt to identify his state of mind and his feelings, then repeating them to him to show that he (Sergeant Jackson) was listening, and understanding the way the subject was feeling. Technically this is known as ‘‘emotional labelling’’. By way of example, Sergeant Jackson illustrated how you would effect this, when he said to John Carthy:
‘‘John, you sound very angry, you sound very upset, what is the problem and what has caused all of this, I am here, I want to hear about it’’.
He said that he utilised this method throughout the incident.
i An attempt to allay any fears John Carthy had in relation to the presence of the gardaı´ at the scene.
i On issues, such as the subject’s requests, revisiting them if there was no progress in other areas and being proactive to some extent, so as to achieve something positive out of them.
i Reassuring John Carthy and acknowledging his worries and fears.
i Giving Mr. Carthy time to consider and think. He said that silence is part of the process.
Sergeant Jackson drew a distinction between how a negotiator deals with a conventional hostage incident, where the hostage takers normally display goal
oriented and purposeful behaviour; and a non-hostage incident, where the person involved deals in a very self-destructive and senseless way, driven by anger as opposed to any particular demand for any advantage. In dealing with a hostage incident, the accepted police thinking is that the police should operate a high visibility containment by the firearms team, with negotiators rigidly playing for time, attempting to convince the person of the benefit of surrendering and that their course of action is not to their advantage. In the latter non-hostage situation the strategy should be based on low visibility containment together with engagement with the subject; allowing him to vent his anger; listening to the subject and providing him with problem solving solutions particular to the individual. The evidence indicates that the negotiator did nothing to provide John Carthy with problem solving solutions particular to his situation — such as his fear of a long prison sentence; his desire for a solicitor at the scene and his repeated requests for cigarettes.
From the evidence before the Tribunal it would appear that in the early stages of the development of the concept of a dedicated negotiator, police forces concentrated upon the utilisation of the negotiator in hostage type incidents. This arose as a response to such incidents as the Iranian Embassy siege in London in 1980. However, it appears that the current common experience is that the majority of incidents dealt with by police forces which require the use of negotiators are non-hostage type incidents. In response to this, in recent years there has been greater concentration on the separate techniques and skills that are required for this latter work, leading to the broader concept of a ‘‘crisis’’ negotiator rather than a ‘‘hostage’’ negotiator.
It is also worthwhile noting that Mr. Lanceley in his evidence illustrated another broad distinction that has evolved in the thinking in recent years — with particular reference to the position at Abbeylara — when he drew a distinction between crisis negotiation and crisis intervention. He said that negotiating by its nature would suggest that one or other of the parties could back out of any agreement reached, or of the negotiations themselves. He said that this could not happen in a situation where a police force is called to intervene in a siege. A police force cannot back out of the scene. In those circumstances, Mr. Lanceley believed that effectively the police are not negotiating but rather they are intervening in a crisis situation. He thought that negotiation was a term more particularly relevant to hostage scenarios. Effectively, Mr. Lanceley was of the view that in non-hostage situations one is dealing at root with crisis intervention. In a hostage situation, one is dealing with crisis intervention together with the use of bargaining; in hostage situations it is difficult to get away from bargaining.
Dr. McKenzie, differentiating between the principles and the techniques of hostage negotiation and non-hostage negotiation, said that the principles of hostage negotiations were firmly based on behavioural psychology. As an example of a practical illustration of this, he said that requests for such things as food, cigarettes and medicine would only be complied with following a positive response from the subject. He said that where hostages are being held and demands being made the practice of delay and prevarication followed by some reward for an acceptable piece of behaviour on behalf of the subject, such as allowing medical assistance, or
releasing a hostage, is perfectly correct. These are known as ‘‘positive reinforcers’’. They are based upon the sound behavioural principle that the reinforced behaviour will be repeated and that in turn the repeated behaviour may be further reinforced. The aim here is the negotiator will manipulate the behaviour of the subject leading in due course to a satisfactory outcome. Although he thought that this approach provided some useful strategy in a single-barricaded-subject situation, its excessive application in those circumstances may be unwise. In circumstances where there are no hostages and no demands (and in this regard he distinguished demands from requests) and ‘‘little to negotiate upon’’, the key feature is to keep matters under control.
Mr. Lanceley illustrated the practical distinction between hostage and non-hostage situations, by drawing attention to the question of ‘‘demands and goals’’. In a hostage situation, the hostage is being held for the fulfilment of ‘‘substantive demands’’, those being ones that the subject could not fulfil through legitimate means. In contrast what are described as ‘‘non-substantive demands’’ are ones that a subject can obtain through legitimate means. Demands that frequently arise in non-hostage situations are non-substantive demands, and when these arise in a non-hostage situation a negotiator has to ask why the subject wishes to have these non-substantive demands fulfilled. This is the question that the negotiator will more than likely have difficulty in answering and illustrates the difference in the skills required to deal with a non-hostage situation.
2. Detective Sergeant Jackson’s experience
Sergeant Jackson has been a member of the Garda Sı´ocha´na since 1980. Prior to that he had worked in Dublin Corporation, Dublin County Council, and for a manufacturing firm. He had about two years’ employment experience before joining the Garda Sı´ocha´na. His first posting was Harcourt Terrace station in Dublin and in 1982 he was transferred to Kilmainham station also in Dublin where he did general beat and patrol car duties dealing with a broad range of general police work. His period in Kilmainham also included some work in the local drugs unit.
In 1985 he joined the Special Detective Unit and was posted to Harcourt Square in Dublin, specifically to the Special Task Force in which he received firearms training.
In 1986 he joined the Emergency Response Unit and underwent the assessment and training procedures which are outlined in Chapter 10. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant in June, 1991 and returned to uniform attached to Store Street station in Dublin (where he remained, carrying out mainly personnel/supervision duties) until his transfer in January, 1994 to Blanchardstown station in Dublin where he was in charge of the local Crime Prevention Unit involving a broad range of work in criminal investigation and prevention.
In August, 1996 he was transferred to the Special Detective Unit as a detective sergeant and was a member of the Inquiry Unit for the North Dublin area, working primarily in intelligence gathering on subversive and serious crime. In September
1998 he rejoined the Emergency Response Unit. In October, 1998 he received tactical training in Germany and in August, 1999 attended the FBI hostage rescue team centre at the FBI headquarters at Quantico, Virginia. He said that negotiation was an element of this course but was not the specific reason for the training. It was broadly based, covering all the elements of hostage and rescue. His attendance at this course was primarily from a tactical team perspective.
In March, 2000, Sergeant Jackson was chosen to attend the London Metropolitan Police National Negotiators Course, a two week, full-time course. On return from it he was appointed national negotiator in the ERU.
Prior to this appointment Sergeant Jackson’s practical experience relevant to the matters that arose at Abbeylara came primarily from dealing with domestic violence issues, particularly during his period at Kilmainham garda station. In evidence Sergeant Jackson made the point that most garda personnel who are in the front line end up with a degree of experience in dealing with individuals in crisis states. In his evidence Sergeant Jackson drew the Tribunal’s attention to one incident in particular that occurred while he was stationed in Kilmainham. He was called to a business premises in Inchicore where an armed man had taken employees hostage; had fired shots and had refused to come out. This individual turned out to be a disgruntled employee who had been dismissed. The area was cordoned off and negotiating commenced leading to a surrender after five or six hours.
In 1990 Sergeant Jackson was part of a unit involved in the containment of an armed gang who were holding staff members hostage in a bank at Athy, Co. Kildare.
All of this having been said, the incident at Abbeylara was the first of its kind at which Sergeant Jackson attended with the designation of negotiator. In that capacity he had never before dealt with a live incident, and had not been involved in a siege type incident concerning an armed man motivated by mental illness.
3. Detective Garda Sullivan’s experience
As already stated, Garda Sullivan was appointed by Detective Inspector Hogan as Sergeant Jackson’s assistant. He was his only assistant, and together they made up the negotiating team.
Garda Sullivan joined the Garda Sı´ocha´na in 1982 and became a member of the Emergency Response Unit in 1994. Prior to that he was stationed in Clontarf Garda station and in the Divisional Task Force located at Santry, both in Dublin. His ERU experience included firearms duty, and he was part of the inner cordon team involved in the incident at Bawnboy, Co. Cavan in January, 1997. During training with the London Metropolitan Police in 1998 he served with a unit similar to the Emergency Response Unit for two weeks; the training he received being on the tactical side. In 1998 he also completed the firearms instructors course in the Garda Sı´ocha´na.
Garda Sullivan had no training in, or experience of, negotiations. He had never acted in the capacity of assistant to a negotiator before.
4. Other qualified negotiators
It appears that in April, 2000 there were a number of negotiators available within the Special Detective Unit in Dublin — approximately five in number. Additionally, there were in the region of 25 to 30 trained negotiators spread countrywide.
5. Detective Sergeant Jackson’s knowledge of mental illness
In his basic training Sergeant Jackson attended the lecture given in the Garda Training College, in Templemore on the Mental Treatment Act, 1945. Other than the knowledge that he gleaned on the London Metropolitan Police Negotiators Course, his knowledge of mental illness was derived from his own general reading and life experience.
In relation to his knowledge of manic depression, and in particular the distinction between it and depression simpliciter, he said that:
‘‘I had a general knowledge from, I suppose, my own general experience and reading in relation to manic depression. I also had knowledge from my training in the UKI was aware manic depression is a serious form of depression. I was aware that it involved swings between elation and depression. From my reading I was aware a lot of famous people, artists, writers, poets, suffered from manic depression. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, I think, were all sufferers, so in a general way from readingI was aware of the illness, that it was a serious illness. I was aware that during periods of elation people can have ideas of grandiosity and I remember reading at one stage, people tended to spend money above and beyond their means during periods of elation. I was also aware of the depressive state; people having morbid thoughts. Suicide was an issue when a person was in depression. Generally, thoughts of death, loneliness, low self-esteem, these were all in peoples’ minds when they were depressed. I was aware also that either in the elated phase or in the depressive stage, people in these particular instances, can lose touch with reality and may suffer from hallucinations or delusions during a bout of this particular illness’’.
Detective Sergeant Jackson
Sergeant Jackson attended the London Metropolitan Police Negotiation Course which ran from 5th to 1 7th March, 2000. This course dealt with hostage and non-hostage situations, given that at that time 70% of incidents in the United Kingdom were of the ‘‘non-hostage’’ variety. As already stated, prior to attending that course the training Sergeant Jackson had received was primarily on the tactical side, and although it gave him some general knowledge of negotiation, the London Metropolitan course was the first one which was specifically concerned with
negotiations. At the outset candidates were required to undergo psychometric testing to assess their overall suitability for the course, and their capability to act as a negotiator.
The evidence established that the London Metropolitan Police Negotiation Course is one of a high standard and calibre, which is held in particular regard by police forces worldwide.
The topics and skills covered by the course included:
i The identification of the type of individual you are dealing with and setting out some information about various types of mental illnesses and conditions. From Sergeant Jackson’s evidence, it appeared that there was no specific reference in the London course to ‘‘elation’’ in the manic phase of bipolar disorder, or instruction on how to deal with such a phase.
i Appropriate negotiation strategy with people with depression. i The art of active listening.
i Styles of communication — emphasising empathy and honesty.
i Dealing with demands with an emphasis on the distinction between hostage and non-hostage situations, i.e., that in a non-hostage incident a demand, if reasonable, may be worth fulfilling without requiring something substantive in return and should be acceded to, provided the item can be delivered safely.
i The importance of the tone of voice, and body language.
In practical terms the course laid emphasis on the need for information and intelligence and the method of managing the use of the material generated, including as much relevant information as possible about what has motivated a person; what sort of person they are; their background, and state of health. The course stressed the importance of:
i Maintaining close contact with the stronghold.
i Ensuring an ability to record matters vital to the negotiations.
i Ensuring that negotiators operate as a team, ideally three or more in number but never less than two. In this connection Sergeant Jackson said his training taught him that the ideal situation was to build up a negotiation cell at a remove from the scene.
i While negotiations may start in ‘‘face to face’’ mode, the ideal position is a negotiating cell. In this regard his training indicated that ‘‘face to face’’ negotiations were to be avoided, if possible.
i In the event of ‘‘face to face’’ negotiations, secure cover should be sought and any display sheet on which relevant records of information and
intelligence have been made should be mobile, to allow for movement in the event of a retreat.
i That the negotiation cell established should:
y Be outside the inner cordon but near the forward command post;
y Be in a temporarily occupied building or a purpose-built or adapted police vehicle, capable of holding at least six people;
y Be comfortable, not in the line of fire and be protected from the elements;
y Be selected on the basis of long-term involvement rather than short-term deployment.
i That the negotiation team be as follows:
y Number 1, the principal negotiator, engages in conversation with the subject;
y Number 2, gives direct support to number 1 in interpretating and implementing the strategic commander’s overall strategy through a negotiating tactic. This negotiator is also responsible for the safety of the principal negotiator when both are engaged in ‘‘face to face’’ situations.
y Number 3, provides a communication link between the negotiator and the remainder of the command structure and also supports the role of number 2 in implementing the overall strategy and in the pursuit of shorter-term objectives in terms of intelligence gathering. Additionally, this individual is responsible for maintaining a detailed log of the events and may have to manage the visual displays as well.
y Number 4, is responsible for the maintenance of a visual display of all information relevant to the negotiations such as deadlines, demands, delivery or collection plans, the surrender plan, a break-out plan, and the general intelligence gathered.
In addition Sergeant Jackson stated that the London Metropolitan Police training stipulated that a negotiation coordinator, who is an experienced and competent negotiator with sound operational skills, should be part of the negotiation cell. His responsibility is to ensure that the cell is properly sited, equipped and run, and that the negotiators actively and accurately implement the overall strategy. He is also responsible for advising the scene commander on the best negotiating strategy and steers the team of negotiators by working closely with the other teams. He is responsible for arranging the deployment of a complete new team, normally after a twelve-hour shift has been completed, but this may vary according to the circumstances and should take account of the length of time each individual has already been on duty, prior to the incident commencing.
In his evidence Sergeant Jackson stressed that this is the ideal situation, and that his training indicated that ‘‘it is really on the basis of the primary resources of the incident, assessing the dynamics as to how many negotiators you actually need or want in that environment and really it would be very cumbersome to bring three or four negotiators on a ‘‘ face to face’’ and that is some of the issues that are discussed in training’’.
In this context Sergeant Jackson said his training provided that the roles as outlined can be compacted to suit a particular scene. He said that the role of number 3 and number 4 negotiator can be compacted into the role of number 2 negotiator; and that he received training on this topic. He was of the view that at least two negotiators should be used, and that if the circumstances allowed, then more could be employed.
i Also the London course stressed the benefit of other specialists such as a psychiatrist, medical advisors or clinical psychologists, who may be able to provide guidance in terms of negotiating and also advise on the welfare of the negotiating team. On the broader question of medical advisers, Sergeant Jackson said: ‘‘I think the common sense approach indicates that it would be very good practice to contact an individual’s medical specialist, either through the clinical psychologist retained, or directly, if necessary. So yes, that would be fair to say, it is something that should be considered and should be done on that basis, yes’’.
i The importance of maintaining a negotiating log. It was not done at Abbeylara.
i That, if possible, negotiations should be recorded.
7. Scene commander training
The document entitled ‘‘The Siege Operations’’ which was prepared by Detective Superintendent Maher and used by him in his lectures was referred to in evidence. He said that the primary objective of this lecture was to engender the overall concept of siege management in district officers, who may not have had substantial expertise or exposure to the management of major incidents previously. The purpose was to make these officers aware of the expertise that was available to them and to give them some instruction as to how to manage a scene.
Superintendent Maher stated in evidence that the contents of the presentation are now given by Inspector Michael Jackson in his lecture on ‘‘Principles of incident and on-scene command’’ as part of the Operational Commanders and Superintendents Development Course and are similar to those that were given by him when he lectured on this course.
In relation to negotiations, these lectures involved instructions on various methods of communication, that is by way of telephone, loudhailer or direct contact and a discussion of the disadvantages of each of these methods. In particular,
Superintendent Maher said that instruction was given on the fact that ‘‘person-toperson’’ negotiation ‘‘places the negotiator in obvious physical danger’’.
The course also included instruction in the concepts of a negotiation cell and a negotiation coordinator.
Participants on the Superintendents Development Course were also informed of the availability of technical resources, including specialised telephones, and advice on the availability of the services of a clinical psychologist. Superintendent Maher’s course notes state that ‘‘his professional advice would be very valuable in a siege type incident’’.
8. The negotiation post and its location The evidence
Detective Sergeant Jackson
The evidence was that the initial attempts at negotiating were conducted by Sergeant Dooley and Superintendent Shelly before the arrival of Sergeant Jackson and the Emergency Response Unit. On his way to Abbeylara, Sergeant Jackson had given advice to Sergeant Dooley and Superintendent Shelly about the conduct of the preliminary negotiations being carried out by them. It was during their negotiations that Mr. Thomas Walsh had his first contact with his cousin by mobile telephone. Sergeant Jackson was not asked his advice in that regard.
During his journey to the scene from Dublin, Sergeant Jackson received the information already alluded to from Superintendent Shelly. Included therein was the brief partial information that had come to Superintendent Shelly from Dr. Cullen through Garda Gibbons. No details were furnished by or sought from the doctor. Superintendent Shelly did not interview him or arrange for any other officer to do so. Sergeant Jackson stated that he was not aware what specific information had come from Dr. Cullen, but that he took the information he received from Superintendent Shelly in ‘‘a block’’.
Sergeant Jackson agreed that making an assessment of the then current phase of John Carthy’s illness would be part of his overall investigation.
On his arrival at the scene Sergeant Jackson learned that Sergeant Dooley and Superintendent Shelly had carried out their attempts at negotiation from the ESB pole at the boundary between the Carthy and Burke properties. When Sergeant Jackson commenced negotiations he also occupied that position and he remained there for approximately ten minutes. Initially he thought that this was a point that was far enough out of John Carthy’s line of sight and range to be able to talk to him in reasonable safety. It was on high ground, looking down at the house and it also afforded good cover to anyone speaking to the subject from that point.
Soon afterwards Sergeant Jackson reassessed the situation. The main reason for doing so was his concern that John Carthy could not hear him unless by phone or loudhailer and Sergeant Jackson would have difficulty in hearing any response from him.
The witness believed that verbal communications were extremely important. In addition he thought that it would be helpful to be able to see how the subject was behaving which would allow him (Jackson) to ‘‘interact with him verbally on that basis’’.
He made it clear that he was wary about close contact with John Carthy, in the nature of ‘‘eye to eye’’ contact, because that can cause an adverse reaction in people who are depressed or in a crisis state. He described contact with the subject as ‘‘face to face’’ rather than ‘‘eye to eye’’. In the context of moving the negotiation post closer to John Carthy, he saw his physical closeness to him, and the danger of provoking an adverse reaction as a negative point, but he thought it was one that needed to be offset against the potential benefit of having communication with the subject.
Various alternative locations were looked at and a position at the pillar near the centre of the roadside boundary wall of the Carthy house was chosen. This pillar is shown marked as X on photograph numbers, 3, 8 and 11 in the series of photographs which are contained in Appendix 5. It was in a direct line with the gable window of the Carthy house, being the window of the kitchen. This was where the subject spent nearly all of his time during 1 9th and 20th April. The distance from the kitchen window to the pillar in the wall is in the order of 38 feet. It was within the firing range of John Carthy’s shotgun.
Sergeant Jackson said that he thought that the advantages of this location were that the subject could hear him when he was using the loudhailer; that he was able to see his reactions to what he was saying and that he had the ability from this point to speak to him without the loudhailer unless he was threatening and firing shots.
Sergeant Jackson stressed that he saw the new location as a temporary measure. Because it was at the centre of the inner cordon it created an extra difficulty for the tactical team. It was identified as one of necessity rather than choice. He agreed that it was not ideal but that his thinking was that if and when he established telephone contact with John Carthy he would withdraw to a better position, such as one of the nearby houses. In general, Sergeant Jackson thought it was the best of a poor selection that was on offer.
He said that he discussed the matter with Detective Sergeant Russell and with Superintendent Shelly and it was agreed between them that he would move to the new location.
It was accepted by Sergeant Jackson that communication by loudhailer was not satisfactory for a number of obvious reasons, in particular that the subject did not have the benefit of a loudhailer and there was the unhappy situation that if private and intimate details were discussed by loudhailer, he would have the impression that
they were being broadcast generally. Sergeant Jackson and the other relevant garda officers agreed that the new negotiation post was physically unsatisfactory, requiring Sergeant Jackson to crouch behind the wall when John Carthy levelled his gun or fired shots, thus interrupting the flow of communications and cutting short any potential dialogue, leaving Sergeant Jackson exposed to the elements and creating difficulty in the recording of information, intelligence and events occurring at the scene, as well as causing significant further difficulties for the tactical team in that this new post was located within the ‘‘sterile area’’, a practice generally to be avoided. Probably the most serious disadvantage relating to the relocated negotiation point was that it gave John Carthy the opportunity, which he frequently enjoyed, of causing ERU officers there to duck up and down by levelling his gun at them (vide his telephone conversation with Kevin Ireland). He also availed of the opportunity to shoot a megaphone and a loose concrete block off the top of the wall. The latter fell on Sergeant Jackson who was crouching behind the wall at the time. The new negotiation point was severely criticised by the police experts — see hereunder.
Aside from one short period referred to below, Sergeant Jackson carried out all his efforts at contact and negotiation with John Carthy at the new negotiating point from about 10:30 p.m. on 1 9th April until he emerged from the house on the following day.
Sergeant Jackson never achieved sustained communication with the subject by telephone, much less his agreement to communicate in that way. His telephone contact was brief and intermittent and was only on the subject’s mobile phone. The negotiator never achieved any contact at all on the landline in the Carthy household. Sergeant Jackson’s only other contact with him during this period was either by direct speech over the wall or by the loudhailer. In summary, he was of the view that he never established a level of satisfactory communication with the subject that would have allowed him to move from his cramped and unsatisfactory location at the pillar of the garden wall.
He said that consideration was given to the suitability of the relocated negotiation post in discussions which he had with Superintendent Shelly and Superintendent Byrne, particularly in the context of the shots fired by John Carthy. During Sergeant Jackson’s watch eight shots were fired. Seven were in the direction of the pillar behind which the negotiation post was located, and there is photographic evidence of damage to the inner side of the wall at or about the pillar. There is no evidence that Mr. Carthy intended to shoot any police officer there. His subsequent telephone conversation with Kevin Ireland clearly indicates the contrary. It appears that the shots were fired after he caused the officers to duck behind the wall.
Detective Sergeant Russell
Sergeant Russell stated in evidence that he selected the negotiation position behind the pillar which was in direct line with the gable wall of the Carthy house. He said that in selecting this position he considered the safety options and had to weigh up a number of factors, believing that he was responsible for providing Sergeant Jackson with the opportunity to bring the incident to a peaceful conclusion. He said that it was ‘‘incumbent on us to take some risk to resolve the situation. If that meant exposing
ourselves to some degree of danger, well, we were prepared to do that if it meant that Michael Jackson could continue with his negotiation and hopefully bring it to a peaceful conclusion’’.
The experts’ views on and analysis of the location of the negotiation post
By way of general explanatory note, on each of the topics on which the experts gave their views, which were critical of the actions or decisions of any garda officer, each of the latter was given an opportunity to deal with such opinions and their attention was directed to certain specific areas by letter from the Tribunal. Their written replies were then amplified in evidence by the appropriate officers. In this chapter the letter written to each officer is referred to as the ‘‘recall’’ letter, and the evidence given by each as the ‘‘recall’’ evidence.
The experts’ opinions on the location of the negotiation post were connected with their comments on the issues of officer and third party safety; risk assessment; the wisdom of ‘‘face to face’’ negotiations; the use of the loudhailer; the use of a separately located negotiation cell and the use of specialised equipment. It is convenient to consider all of these related issues under one heading.
It is also important to note that while the question of the location of the negotiation post is one that is firmly within the scene commander’s remit; in this instance the appreciation of the criteria involved in the selection of a negotiation point were matters of which Sergeant Jackson would be acutely aware, having just completed his London Metropolitan Police course. It was a number of years since Superintendent Shelly underwent his Superintendents Development Course, which contained limited instruction on the principles and techniques applicable to negotiation. Accordingly, Superintendent Shelly and subsequently Superintendent Byrne naturally relied on the advice they received from Sergeant Jackson, while at all times making clear in their evidence that the final decision on this, as with other operational issues within their remit, was made solely by them and if they were of the view that any suggestion on this or other topics from any relevant officers subordinate to them were ones with which they did not agree, they would have had no hesitation in rejecting such advice.
The distinction between the roles of the scene commander and the negotiator was illustrated by Mr. Bailey in his evidence when he said, in connection with the relocation of the negotiation post to the pillar in the boundary wall:
‘‘I think the negotiator quite rightly has focused on how best can they fulfil what is a difficult and complex role at the scene. It is also, I think, the responsibility of the scene commander to ensure that their safety is not compromised by their eagerness to fulfil that role. Therefore, whilst the commander should attempt to provide the negotiator with the negotiation point that they are seeking, they have to provide an overview of safety and effectively overrule the negotiator if safety is going to be compromised by the location that the negotiator would be in.
In the UK we have had shots fired that have hit negotiators, not fatallyI hasten to add, and negotiators have positioned themselves in positions which commanders have reviewed and withdrawn them from. So it is not an unusual situation. It is, I think, on the basis of the different focus of those two individuals, the scene commander’s overview of safety and the negotiator’s desire to conduct the negotiations in such a way that they will be successful’’.
Mr. Lanceley thought that from the outset of the negotiation response, there did not seem to have been an appreciation of the level of danger inherent in the incident. He said that the negotiation position, at the pillar, left negotiators and third party intermediaries too close to the Carthy residence and too vulnerable to hostile fire. He was of the view that the negotiators presented themselves as a target and John Carthy availed himself of the opportunity, firing on at least six occasions at the negotiation post. He said that the safety of the negotiators is a negotiation problem. He thought that it is not only that the negotiators are risking their lives but also that they are setting back the negotiation. He said that every time the negotiators exposed themselves to gunfire, John Carthy shot or aimed at them. He thought that John Carthy was amused by his power to make the gardaı´ duck for cover and that he boasted of this to Kevin Ireland in his conversation with him. In view of the fact that the negotiators could see the subject and he could see them, they had to be, at the very least, exposed to hostile fire. He said that there were a limited number of ways that negotiators could establish a dialogue. The first of these and the preferred method in the United States is the telephone whether it is a hard line telephone, mobile phone or telephone designed for law enforcement agencies in siege situations. The second and next best method is direct voice from cover with or without a loudhailer. The third method, and one that he was strongly of the view should be avoided especially with suicidal individuals, is exposed ‘‘face to face’’ negotiations. He thought that at Abbeylara a combination of all three methods was used. In the use of exposed ‘‘face to face’’ negotiations, cover was only used when Sergeant Jackson felt threatened or John Carthy was shooting in his direction. He said that in the United States negotiators are taught not to use ‘‘face to face’’ negotiations with armed subjects, including suicidal subjects, in that they are considered far too dangerous. As an illustration of the inherent dangers in this approach Mr. Lanceley drew attention to the fact that on one occasion when the subject fired the shotgun at Sergeant Jackson’s position, forcing him to take cover, a minute later Sergeant Jackson thought it safe to look over the wall again. Mr. Lanceley posed the question as to what had changed in that short period of time, from it not being safe to look over the wall to it being safe. He could find nothing that had changed. He thought that in the United States the scene commander, the tactical team leader or the negotiation team leader would have told Sergeant Jackson to find another negotiation position. He was strongly of the view that, in the United States, Sergeant Jackson would not have been allowed to negotiate from behind the boundary wall. Interestingly, he said that he saw it as a good measure of Sergeant Jackson’s skill as a negotiator that he almost convinced Mr. Lanceley in his evidence that being by the wall was a good idea. He said it was not a good idea because it was not safe. The witness said that if he had been in the position of the negotiation
team leader he would have deemed the negotiation position behind the wall to be clearly unsafe and would have attempted telephone contact from an alternative point. He said that in the United States if the subject did not answer the telephone immediately, and often this is the position, negotiators would keep calling until he did answer even if it took hours or days. In the context of being asked whether he believed that the scene commander, Sergeant Jackson and Sergeant Russell concerned themselves with officer safety, Mr. Lanceley said:
‘‘I don’t think they discounted it. However, at the same time I tend to think that their assessment was unrealistic. They were overly optimistic. If a negotiator can’t find a safe place from which to negotiate, that does not mean he goes to an unsafe place from which to negotiate. What he then does is he doesn’t negotiate at all. I would have preferred, Sir, that Inspector Jackson would not say anything to Mr. Carthy than have Inspector Jackson where he was. I would have preferred, Sir, that everyone just kept out of sight and said nothing at all to Mr. Carthy. That would be my preference. It might even have helped the negotiation process because I believe after several hours with nothing happening, Mr. Carthy may have said something. Where Inspector Jackson was, it was just a very dangerous place to be’’.
He went on to say that depending on the precise circumstances, he probably would have withdrawn from that point when John Carthy either pointed or fired the gun.
Mr. Lanceley said that by giving the subject the target of the negotiation post it allowed him to ‘‘self-enrage’’. The witness stated that with all the personal problems going on in his life, it would have been more appropriate to talk to him over the telephone. The loudhailer may be suitable at the beginning of an incident to gain the subject’s attention, but in the United States, concerted effort would have been made to transfer the negotiation to a more private form of communication, such as the telephone. He noted that very private issues were being discussed and he said:
‘‘shouting and using a loudhailer is not conducive to discussing and resolving such intimate and private issues as Mr. Carthy’s mental disorder, suicidal ideation, love life, job loss, loss of possible self-esteem and self-worth, anger, slagging he had been receiving, the feelings about the garda, guilt over self-inflicted blame for his father’s death, the loss of his family home, etc.’’
Mr. Lanceley said that any conversation under the Abbeylara circumstances would have been difficult but, ‘‘with a person who has been described as sensitive and diffident it would have been especially so’’.
Mr. Lanceley expressed the view that because John Carthy did not answer the telephone initially, this did not mean that he would never have done so. Even if it took him hours or days to answer the telephone, that extra time was likely to ‘‘pay big dividends’’. If no other means of communication were being employed, John Carthy would have eventually picked up the telephone realising that the incident was going to be worked in that way. He stated that ‘‘by using only the telephone Mr. Carthy would have been educated as to how things are done in an incident such as this’’. The very fact that he had to shout to be heard kept his arousal levels high.
Mr. Lanceley accepted that Sergeant Jackson went to ‘‘extraordinary lengths’’ to contact the subject by telephone. The latter rebuffed those attempts and he agreed that in those circumstances, it must have been very difficult and frustrating for Sergeant Jackson to try and establish telephone contact. He agreed that the use of the telephone and the attempts to make use of it presented difficult issues for Sergeant Jackson in the circumstances in which he found himself. However, he did say that no time limit should be placed on the attempts to achieve telephone contact, but that as the establishment of communication with the subject is the first step in trying to build up rapport with him a negotiator should keep calling.
Dr. McKenzie stated in evidence that the key problem in the negotiations, which was identified by Sergeant Jackson, was that the first position selected as a negotiation point was too far from the Carthy house, and the second was too close. However, regardless of any well-intentioned desire to develop a bond with John Carthy, any question of rapport/empathy development was severely damaged by the need to use a loudhailer to make contact with the subject. Even the alternative — shouting over the wall — was beset with problems. He said that he accepted that the circumstances surrounding Sergeant Jackson’s negotiation attempts were plagued by difficulty and danger. In his opinion the loudhailer is not commensurate with any effort to strike up rapport or to demonstrate empathy. Furthermore, if tone of voice and ‘‘echoing and feedback’’ are important, efforts to use such devices are rendered futile by the need for shouted ‘‘conversations’’. Subtleties of tone or voice (on either side) are non-existent. He said that he thought it was clear from the negotiator’s evidence as well as from the evidence of others at the scene, that Sergeant Jackson was a skilled, thoughtful and knowledgeable negotiator, and that he did his best in trying to display the skills of ‘‘active listening’’, but most, if not all of his efforts were thwarted by a lack of adequate (suitable) equipment. He said that in the absence of a proper facility for communication, however much the negotiator might wish it not to be so, a loudhailer produces a one-sided monologue approach.
He thought that it was of critical importance that such communications should take place on a person-to-person basis and, in the absence of a telephone line, it should be undertaken using a ‘‘throw phone’’ or a ‘‘field phone’’ or some similar form of equipment. He said that such equipment not only provides an effective form of rapport building through intimate communication (he described that ‘‘one can hear a smile’’ in a person’s voice on a telephone), it also provides the opportunity for gathering of intelligence. The issue of equipment is dealt with in more detail below.
Dr. McKenzie said that in the context of loudhailer use and the associated poverty of communication, it is important to consider what the situation looks like from the viewpoint of the subject inside the building. He may view him or herself as the principal negotiator and will expect, as a matter of course, responses to observations, questions, comments and demands that are made by him or her. Where, because of inadequate communication, the police negotiating team cannot hear responses or demands, any expectation of rapport is defeated. This almost inevitably leads to growing frustration in the subject. Dr. McKenzie was asked, in the context of the
numerous attempts that were made by Sergeant Jackson to make contact by telephone with John Carthy and in the context of the responses that he received, what he (Sergeant Jackson) was to do. Dr. McKenzie replied that the answer was simple — ‘‘keep on trying’’. In this context he drew the Tribunal’s attention to the fact that there was telephone contact between Sergeant Jackson and the subject in the early afternoon after the loudhailer had been shot from the wall at 1:06 p.m. This is a point which was elaborated upon by Mr. Burdis in his evidence. Dr. McKenzie thought that fairly subtle use of words and language should be used in repeatedly pointing out to a subject that the police officers conducting the negotiation are having difficulty outside in hearing what is being said. He stressed a negotiator should not be overbearing in such a situation.
Mr. Bailey thought that it was unlikely that many commanders in the United Kingdom would have agreed, on the grounds of safety, with Sergeant Jackson’s request to move the negotiation post to the pillar at the boundary wall. Furthermore, he was of the view that if such agreement had been allowed, a negotiator would have been withdrawn immediately John Carthy aimed the shotgun at him, let alone fired shots at the wall. He said that he could understand Sergeant Jackson’s reason for making the request to negotiate from the wall, but thought that from a commander’s perspective the risk was too great to adopt the wall as the negotiation position. In his view it was a command responsibility to ensure the safety of the negotiator. He said that the safety of the negotiator should take priority over the effectiveness of the negotiation, if that choice needs to be made; and that if the contrary view is taken, eventually a negotiator will be shot by the subject of an operation.
He thought that in addition to the safety considerations, an additional reason that a scene commander in the United Kingdom would not have adopted the wall as the negotiating position is that it provided John Carthy with more control over the process than they would have wanted. Simply by pointing the shotgun he could stop the negotiation when he wished. He also believed that a scene commander in the United Kingdom would not have allowed non-police personnel to go to any negotiating point where there is a risk of them being shot. A further concern for a United Kingdom scene commander would have been that if a member of the inner cordon shot the subject through the window because they feared for the safety of someone at the negotiating post; it could be argued that the decision to negotiate from the wall contributed to the need to fire.
Mr. Burdis was of the view that the location of the negotiation post put Sergeant Jackson in a very difficult situation. He would have to be in a crouched position most of the time while he was there, trying to receive information and having to assess whether it was safe for him to expose his head above the wall at all. Mr. Burdis thought that if one wants ‘‘face to face’’ negotiation, it has to be in circumstances where it is consistently safe to be able to do so, not relying on whether the gun is pointing in one’s direction or not at any particular moment. The difficulty that
presented itself was compounded by the requirement to use the loudhailer which was unsatisfactory for a number of obvious reasons. Mr. Burdis believed that Sergeant Jackson was in a very dangerous situation, and he (Mr. Burdis) would have wanted to move from that position as quickly as possible to a neighbouring property, or even a vehicle, but certainly away from the situation where he was under the threat of fire at any moment. He said that a necessary ingredient in such movement would have been the establishment of telephone contact with John Carthy. Mr. Burdis thought that not enough time was spent in trying to get him to use the landline. In echoing the point made by Dr. McKenzie, Mr. Burdis said that after the time when he shot the loudhailer from the wall, there was a period of communication which contained significant exchanges between Sergeant Jackson and John Carthy, which took place by way of mobile phone. Mr. Burdis thought that there was more depth to the conversation which took place at this time, and that these conversations were an opportunity to develop a relationship whereby Sergeant Jackson might continue to make contacts by use of the mobile phone. Mr. Burdis commented that it appeared as if Sergeant Jackson was only using the mobile phone on a temporary basis until a replacement loudhailer could be brought, and that once that had arrived he went back to using the loudhailer.
Mr. Burdis believed that by daylight on Thursday, 20th April, he would have seen it as a priority to move the negotiation post from the wall, even in circumstances where Sergeant Jackson had not succeeded in establishing reliable telephone contact. He said that the scene commander should have given consideration to moving the negotiation post from the dangerous position it was in, being one where there was the risk of an officer exposing his head at the wrong moment and being killed.
The evidence on recall
Detective Sergeant Jackson
Consequent upon the evidence on training and also that from the experts, Sergeant Jackson was asked the following question by letter from the Tribunal:
‘‘Did he consider advising the establishment of a manned and equipped negotiation cell at a location removed from the immediate vicinity of the Carthy old house? If not, was there a reason for this?’’
His reply was:
‘‘At the outset and throughout the incident the potential for the establishment of a negotiation cell at a remove from the old house was a consideration that could arise if substantive phone contact took place with Mr. Carthy. In these circumstances the scene commander would be advised accordingly. The goal of substantive telephone contact was pursued from the outset of the operation and continued throughout, but was never achieved.’’
In further examination Sergeant Jackson justified choosing and remaining at the negotiating point at the garden wall. He said that:
‘‘a lot flowed from the position at the negotiation post in relation to limited communication with Mr. Carthy, bringing the intermediaries down to the scene and extracting, as best we could, some form of dialogue between the negotiator and the third party inside. That was only possible from that negotiation position, either on the loudhailer or verbally and also intermittently on the phone; but none of that would have been possible if we had decided, as the experts have suggested, to remain at a remove until Mr. Carthy answers the phone’’.
He answered the criticism made of the empowerment of John Carthy by accepting that he (John Carthy) had a degree of control over the negotiator’s actions but that this was accepted by the gardaı´ on the basis of having limited options in relation to communication.
He said that it was a matter of checks and balances in relation to living ‘‘with the level of threat that existed’’ and he said that ‘‘in our assessment we could’’.
During the course of the evidence the following exchange took place between the Chairman and Sergeant Jackson:
‘‘Q. Chairman: Would it come down to this, Inspector Jackson, as to the positioning of the negotiation point when it was moved to the wall opposite the kitchen, that there were considerable downsides in connection with that? Negotiating by megaphone, I take it you would probably agree with Dr. McKenzie, is far from being an ideal mode of communication. You would agree with that?
A. Yes, Chairman, yes indeed.
Q. Chairman: Secondly, looked at from the point of view of the negotiators, I think the weather situation wasn’t too difficult, fortunately, but if it had been bad, it would be very uncomfortable and unpleasant for the negotiators, to say the least of it, perhaps even impossible to persist in using that particular site. That is another downside to it. A preference, I suppose, would be to be able to use somewhere such as, for example, the Burke house, which would give you the comfort of having a roof over your head. It would enable you to negotiate more easily with John Carthy, insofar as you wouldn’t be posing a threat to him or an attraction for him, whichever way he was looking at it, causing you to jump up and down and so on, as he has described to Mr. Ireland in his conversation; but, the big downside about moving the place for negotiation was to be able to communicate, because that is the essence of the whole thing. It would really depend on being able to persuade him to communicate with you by telephone?
A. I think you have that in a nutshell, Chairman.
Q. Chairman: If that had been possible, then to negotiate from, let us say Burkes’ house, would have been a far more preferable arrangement than that which was actually used?
A. Absolutely, Chairman. In addition to reaping the rewards of very good verbal contact, you remove the difficulty for the tactical team in relation to the negotiating position. You do not have that dynamic within the inner cordon, of people attempting to communicate.
Q. Chairman: Yes, that is another advantage that is there in it. A. Yes.
Q. Chairman: It all turns on communication, and being able to persuade him to communicate?
A. Absolutely. Some of the experts have criticised the amount of time we have spent attempting to persuade Mr. Carthy to talk on the phone, and that was done at the start of the incident and throughout because I was very conscious of attempting to move the negotiation team back from the scene and to be able to talk on the phone with Mr. Carthy. Unfortunately, substantive phone contact, whilst there was intermittent contact on the phone, there was nothing substantive in order to allow me to remove myself back to a more suitable position, Chairman. That is the essence of it, I think you are quite right.
Q. Chairman: Yes. It would necessitate agreement with John Carthy to use, to be prepared to use the telephone?
A. Q. A.
That is correct, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman: Without that, you probably wouldn’t get very far?
It is impossible, andI think as we discussed before, technicallyI could be in Dublin and still be able to communicate with Mr. Carthy. Now, that is an extreme case but as long as he spoke on the phone I could select my position away from the immediate confines of the inner cordon.’’
As to Dr. McKenzie’s concern about the use of the loudhailer, Sergeant Jackson said that it was not the most beneficial means of communication but that it was the best form on the basis of what he was trying to achieve, that is, reassurance of and engagement with John Carthy.
On Dr. McKenzie’s and Mr. Burdis’s point that a significant passage of interchange occurred when the loudhailer was shot from the wall, Sergeant Jackson thought that similar parcels of communication took place in other periods during the incident and he did not see this particular exchange as standing out. For this reason he did not attach any significance to the fact that it took place by telephone and at a time when Sergeant Jackson was not within John Carthy’s view.
In relation to the main thrust of the experts’ criticism to the effect that the strategy in relation to the negotiation post, as initially adopted was not producing any significant benefit and that nothing new was tried, Sergeant Jackson said that the method and position that they had adopted was the only method ‘‘of realistically being able to bring to bear any sort of verbalisation with Mr. Carthy’’.
In relation to the establishment of a remote negotiation cell, Sergeant Jackson said that the key element in the establishment of such a cell was the existence of telephone contact with John Carthy. He said that throughout the incident during the ‘‘face to face’’ negotiations he attempted to establish and maintain telephone contact with a view to setting up and moving to a remote cell, but without success.
The Tribunal wrote to Superintendent Shelly and the other three senior officers, requesting a statement in relation to whether they had considered the establishment of a manned and equipped negotiation cell on a location removed from the immediate vicinity of the Carthy house? If not, was there a reason for this?
Superintendent Shelly replied as follows:
‘‘The potential for the establishment of a negotiation cell at a remove from the old house is a consideration that could arise as a result of substantive telephone contact with the subject, John Carthy. If this had happened we could have moved to a location away from the vicinity of Carthy’s old house. At the outset, Detective Sergeant Jackson had attempted to engage John Carthy by telephone from the ESB pole at Burkes’ house. However, this did not materialise and it was agreed to move the negotiation point to the pillar on the wall in front of the Carthy’s old house’’.
Superintendent Shelly outlined his training in relation to the location and siting of a negotiation cell as being in line with the foregoing statement. He stated that unfortunately they never got to a stage at Abbeylara where they could move the negotiation post from where it was. Having outlined the efforts made by Sergeant Jackson to make telephone contact with John Carthy he explained that he had agreed to the negotiation post being moved to the pier opposite the gable window of the Carthy residence so that the negotiator ‘‘could have eye contact at least with the subject and talk to him from there’’. Superintendent Shelly agreed that no consideration was given during the course of the operation to siting the negotiation cell in another locality because of the difficulty in establishing ongoing direct communication with the subject. He stated ‘‘had it been otherwise it could and would have been done.’’
He differentiated the incident at Bawnboy (referring to an incident which occurred in January, 1997 — see section D of this chapter), where a negotiation cell was established, from Abbeylara in that at Bawnboy there was telephone communication between the subject and persons outside from an early stage.
Superintendent Shelly was asked, in the context of his training, what planning was put in place for the establishment of a negotiation cell had John Carthy made the requisite amount of telephone contact. It was suggested to him that such an element of pre-planning did not appear to be present. Superintendent Shelly replied that the plan was to try to make contact with the subject through negotiation and if that happened the negotiation cell would have been moved to a remote location from the Carthy house.
Superintendent Shelly was asked whether he took the issue of safety into account when agreeing to the relocation of the negotiation point at the Carthy wall. He replied that the nearer you go to such a situation the more danger there is but that the ERU are specifically trained in relation to this.
Superintendent Shelly was asked to comment on the evidence of the expert witnesses that they would have been reluctant to allow the negotiation post to be located where it was. In particular Superintendent Shelly was directed to the evidence of Mr. Lanceley who felt that the officers located at the negotiation point provided John Carthy with ‘‘a target’’ to shoot at and that this had the effect of allowing him to get an adrenalin rush and ‘‘self-enrage’’. While Superintendent Shelly accepted that negotiating is a dangerous job, he stated that he was happy that the pillar of the wall provided Sergeant Jackson with adequate cover. He did not accept that Sergeant Jackson was a target or that he intended himself to be a target. Superintendent Shelly was specifically asked whether he felt that in agreeing to the siting of the negotiation point at the Carthy wall the risk of the safety of the negotiator and other officers concerned was increased. Superintendent Shelly agreed that there was a substantial risk but told the Tribunal that he was satisfied that there was good cover and that the negotiator was in a position to conduct negotiations, albeit with difficulty and with an element of danger. He stated that for this reason he did not consider moving the negotiation point at any time during the operation. He agreed that safety was a fundamental principle of any operation.
The Chairman stated that he understood the use of a negotiation point at the Carthy wall for a comparatively short period of time. However, he questioned Superintendent Shelly as to what the situation would have been if there had been a deterioration in the weather conditions and how this would have affected persons exposed to the elements at the negotiation point. Superintendent Shelly stated that officers are trained to operate in difficult conditions and repeated that the purpose of the negotiation post at that location was to try and make contact with John Carthy; had this happened they could have repaired to another location.
It was put to Superintendent Shelly by counsel for the Carthy family that he, Superintendent Shelly, had departed from his training in relation to the issue of the location of the negotiation point. Counsel enquired of Superintendent Shelly as to where in his training it is said that a ‘‘remote negotiation cell with a negotiation team is merely an aspiration?’’ Superintendent Shelly replied that he understood from his training that negotiations should be conducted from the place which the negotiator believes is best. It was suggested to Superintendent Shelly that one should apply what is in a training manual unless there are very good and substantial reasons for its non-application. Superintendent Shelly did not accept the assertion that he or his colleagues put some form of a gloss on the training or treated them as mere guidelines that did not require to be adhered to. In response to this Superintendent Shelly was asked by counsel for the Commissioner whether or not he agreed with the evidence of Chief Superintendent Ludlow that training programmes developed by the Garda Sı´ocha´na are generic in nature, noting that the unique nature of policing is such that no generic training model will provide a tailored response to meet the
challenge of every situation. What the generic approach allows, in conjunction with experiential learning, Chief Superintendent Ludlow explained, is the creation of a set of skills and abilities that can be drawn on to provide a balanced response to diverse incidents. Superintendent Shelly agreed that this was the nature of the training received.
During the course of the evidence the following exchange took place between the Chairman and Superintendent Shelly:
Q. Chairman: Is it the situation, Superintendent, that looking at the problem that you are faced with, you try to comply with the guidelines that you have received, insofar as it is possible to do it, but that there may be elements of a guideline, for instance, that is in the special circumstances not possible to comply with? For example, in the Abbeylara case to have a negotiating position removed from the house?
A. That is a very good example, Chairman, of what I was saying.
Q. Chairman: You couldn’t do that, your evidence is that you couldn’t do that, unless and until Mr. Carthy agreed to use a telephone?
Superintendent Shelly was questioned as to why recourse was not had to any of the 26 other trained negotiators in the country throughout the duration of the siege? Superintendent Shelly explained that he felt that Sergeant Jackson and Garda Sullivan were ‘‘more than up to the task and able to continue on with it... and that there was sufficiency of them there to do it’’
Counsel for the Carthy family repeatedly explored a suggestion that Superintendent Shelly’s reasoning for not relocating the negotiation post was part of a wider pattern of blaming John Carthy for the actions or inactions of the Garda Sı´ocha´na. He suggested that it was ‘‘part of a wider pattern, a pattern of culture of blame, of spreading blame to detract attention in a way from the shortcomings of the gardaı´ in this operation’’. This was strongly rejected by Superintendent Shelly who agreed that such a tactic would be most unfair, and said that it was not adopted by him or anyone else at the scene.
In relation to officer safety, Superintendent Shelly told the Tribunal that he considered the position of the negotiation post to be as ‘‘as safe as was reasonably possible in the circumstances’’ and that if that position became unsafe in any way he would not have authorised the officers to be there. In relation to the proposition that such officers were presenting a target for John Carthy to shoot at, Superintendent Shelly spoke of the benefit of the negotiators being able to recommence negotiations after each shot. He also spoke of the fact that they allowed for periods of reflection during the negotiations for both John Carthy and themselves. ‘‘They didn’t bombard him continually with questions’’ he stated, ‘‘they were very measured, I thought, in the type of question that they asked and the content of it insofar as we could hear what was happening’’.
Superintendent Shelly also told the Tribunal that he was happy with the location of the negotiation post vis a` vis the third party intermediaries who were brought down to this point to speak to John Carthy. He stated that he considered all this and was happy with their safety.
Superintendent Shelly said that from his training he had an understanding of the role of the negotiating coordinator, and that he saw Garda Sullivan as occupying that role. He went on to say that he interpreted the role of assistant to the negotiator and the role of coordinator as being one and the same thing. He said that this was notwithstanding the fact that he knew that Garda Sullivan had no training as a negotiator, but that ‘‘when he was with Detective Sergeant Jackson that he would understand the concepts of everything that was happening on negotiation’’. It was put to Superintendent Shelly that training documentation seemed to indicate that the role of the coordinator was that of a strategic adviser, and he was asked whether he saw Garda Sullivan in this role. Superintendent Shelly said that he saw him as a coordinator even though he was untrained, saying that:
‘‘When he was with Detective Sergeant Jackson, I understood that he would understand and have knowledge of the basics of what was happening at least. He appeared to have that to me.’’
In response to the question put to the four senior officers as to whether they considered the establishment of a manned and equipped negotiation cell at a location removed from the immediate vicinity of the Carthy old house, and if not, was there a reason for it, Superintendent Byrne replied:
‘‘Given the method of communication which occurred during the incident, mainly face to face negotiations requiring proximity between the negotiator and John Carthy, the issue of a remote negotiating cell did not arise’’.
However, questioned later as to whether it was ever in his mind to pull back out of the negotiation area he stated, ‘‘it crossed my mind but no, we decided, it was never a decision I made to pull back’’.
Superintendent Byrne was aware that during the period that he acted as scene commander John Carthy discharged shots in the vicinity of the negotiation point, two of which were discharged at 3:30 a.m. on the morning of 20th April. He was asked if he gave any consideration at that time to moving the negotiation point. He said that he did not consider that then, but there was ongoing consideration given to the issue. He explained the rationale for not moving the negotiation post as the following:
‘‘John was an ill man. If we had backed off and left him there, there was a great fear that John could harm himself and our anxiety was to help him and to try and talk him out, that was the rationale for all our activity’’.
He accepted that the positioning of the negotiation post was dangerous, but stated that he did not give any consideration to whether it was in some way interfering with the negotiation process. He felt that it was their ‘‘only hope’’,having failed after four
hours at the ESB pole to make any meaningful contact with John Carthy. He reiterated Superintendent Shelly’s belief that the Carthy wall provided cover to the negotiators from shotgun fire. He stated that ‘‘all those matters were thought of and addressed and seriously considered’’.
In response to Mr. Burdis’s criticism that there appeared to have been no objective plan to move from the front of the wall once a more suitable means of communication was established (an issue that should have been very much in the mind of the scene commander), Superintendent Byrne conceded that he probably wasn’t thinking ahead in that regard. He didn’t have ‘‘plan B ready’’. His efforts were focused on initiating dialogue with the subject and utilising third parties to try and achieve this, and he was motivated by the fear that the subject may harm himself.
Superintendent Byrne said that in his view Sergeant Jackson took on the role of negotiator and coordinator. He did not regard Garda Sullivan as a coordinator. While he was scene commander he did not see any necessity for a negotiating coordinator to assist Sergeant Jackson in the role of negotiator. This was not something to which he gave any consideration.
Superintendent Byrne thought that Sergeant Jackson and Garda Sullivan had set up ‘‘a negotiation cell’’ at the pillar of the garden wall.
The witness said in examination by counsel on behalf of the Commissioner, that it was not part of his training that you should establish a remote negotiation cell or should not attempt any other method of negotiation.
Chief Superintendent Tansey
Chief Superintendent Tansey responded to the question posed by the Tribunal to the four senior officers by saying:
‘‘A manned and equipped negotiation cell at a location removed from the immediate vicinity of the Carthy old house was a consideration, provided the negotiation process progressed to the level that facilitated/allowed such a move to take place, with benefit to the negotiation process. This situation was never arrived at.’’
Chief Superintendent Tansey’s training did not familiarise him with the concept of a formal ‘‘negotiation cell’’; such phraseology was not utilised during his training; however he was familiar with the concept of conducting negotiations at a remote location.
He had no conversation with the other senior officers or the scene commanders in relation to the provision of a negotiation cell. He stated that having requested a trained negotiator he believed that when such a person arrived together with an assistant that ‘‘that was sufficient to do the job that had to be done’’.
Chief Superintendent Tansey told the Tribunal that he gave consideration at the outset to locating a negotiation post at a remove from the scene. However, in the
absence of meaningful contact having been made between the negotiator and the subject, he did not see the point in removing the negotiation post to a remote location. He concluded that there was little point in having such a cell with all the facilities if ‘‘there is nobody to negotiate with’’. While accepting that safety is the ‘‘number one issue’’,he assessed the element of risk involved in the location of Sergeant Jackson at the Carthy wall and decided that it was ‘‘an acceptable risk to resolve the incident peacefully’’. He had regard to the fact that the negotiator and his assistant had body armour and ballistic helmets.
Chief Superintendent Tansey stated that they could have certainly moved back if a breakthrough had been made in the negotiations and further, that he would not have sanctioned the location of the post at the wall if there had been ongoing dialogue with John Carthy. However in the absence of any breakthrough he did not agree that they should have moved back having regard, inter alia, to the fear that they held that John Carthy may harm himself and/or others.
In relation to the possible risk to members of the public who were brought to the negotiation post, Chief Superintendent Tansey stated that any risk was acceptable given the need to initiate negotiations. In assessing the risk he had regard to the cover provided by the wall and the fact that such persons were under the guidance of Sergeant Jackson at all stages who, he stated, was extremely cautious regarding the situation and took the necessary precautions. Examined by counsel for the Commissioner, he asserted that the issue of third party intermediaries was specifically the responsibility of the scene commander in an operational sense. He would not expect to be consulted on matters in relation to the assessment of danger or risk. However, he stated that if something came to his notice with which he did not agree he would of course point it out.
In response to Mr. Bailey’s criticisms in relation to the location of the negotiation post (namely, officer safety; the element of control that it afforded John Carthy and safety concerns in relation to members of the public brought to the post), Chief Superintendent Tansey reiterated his reasons for not removing the post and stated that ‘‘it was an acceptable risk that was taken for honourable reasons . . . I would dispute the fact that it wasn’t a safe location, within certain limitations’’.
Chief Superintendent Tansey said that ‘‘a negotiation cell’’ was set up at the wall by Sergeant Jackson and Garda Sullivan. It was suggested to the witness that the negotiation cell as described in the training documentation is nothing to do with people talking on the telephone or otherwise, but rather the purpose of the cell is to provide a dedicated back-up team as described in the training documentation to improve the quality of the negotiation and the negotiator’s chance on the front line, whether it be at the wall or on the telephone line or by whatever means, to which Chief Superintendent Tansey replied that the difficulty was that Sergeant Jackson would have to leave his position at the wall on occasion and should John Carthy have wished to communicate at that precise moment there was nobody there to engage with him. Chief Superintendent Tansey thought that this was totally inappropriate.
Assistant Commissioner Hickey responded by saying:
‘‘The purpose of the Garda operation was the safety of the local community; the safety of Garda personnel involved and the safety of John Carthy. There were early concerns that he may harm himself. It was vital that he should not be allowed in any situation with his shotgun where he would put any citizen at risk. In order to achieve these objectives, because John Carthy did not engage on the telephones available to him, the negotiator was located as close as possible taking safety issues into account’’.
Assistant Commissioner Hickey was not asked to sanction the relocation of the negotiation post from the ESB pole to the wall on the night of 1 9th April. This was a decision that would be within the competence of the scene commander in conjunction with the tactical commander and the negotiator.
In light of this statement, Assistant Commissioner Hickey was questioned as to whether he was concerned for the safety of members of the public who were brought down to the negotiation post. He replied, that he considered it to be a ‘‘risky situation’’ but that having spoken with Superintendents Shelly and Byrne and Sergeant Russell he knew that an assessment had been made of the risk: ‘‘It was considered an acceptable risk. There were precautions taken andI was anxious that we should do anything humanly possible to try and resolve the situation’’.
Prior to April, 2000, Assistant Commissioner Hickey was not ‘‘acutely’’ aware of the concept of a ‘‘negotiating cell’’ but he was aware of the expression. He told the Tribunal that ideally in Abbeylara they would have removed the negotiating point to a remote location, but that this was dependent on telephone interaction between the negotiator and the subject. In response to the criticisms by Mr. Lanceley in relation to the location of the negotiation post he believed that some advantage was to be gained from the location at the Carthy wall in that the negotiator was able to tell the subject, via the loudhailer, who was ringing and was able to ensure that the phone was in fact ringing. He further thought an advantage was gained by the negotiator’s ability to see John Carthy in the house. Admitting that there was an element of danger in the positioning of the post, he emphasised the cover that was provided by the wall.
Questioned as to what he identified as sufficient progress by the afternoon of 20th April to justify the risk of remaining at the Carthy wall, Assistant Commissioner Hickey stated that it was his belief that John Carthy had fired less shots after the arrival of the ERU. He also had regard to the fact that he would eventually run out of ammunition. He questioned Thomas Walsh as to the amount of ammunition that John Carthy may have in the house and he was aware that there are restrictions on the amount of ammunition one may have depending on whether the shotgun licence is limited or unlimited. He further discussed this point with Sergeants Russell and Jackson. Another justifying factor was that John Carthy was not using the telephone. Assistant Commissioner Hickey felt that the location at the wall was the ideal location to hear him if he responded by way of shouting.
Detective Sergeant Jackson brought with him to Abbeylara his ballistic protection equipment, radio units, lighting material, flip charts, pens and a tape recorder. In relation to the tape recorder it was his intention to use it if possible at the scene. His assessment at the scene was that because of the position he was in at the garden wall, with movement up and down and to the side it was not possible to record the various conversations. Other relevant equipment discussed in evidence during the course of the Tribunal, which may have been of use at the scene, were the ‘‘field phone’’ and ‘‘closed circuit television’’ (CCTV).
Sergeant Jackson and the relevant senior officers were aware of the availability of this equipment.
Sergeant Jackson did not bring a field phone with him to Abbeylara. He said that he would not consider the use of a field phone at the outset of the incident, as he needed to attend the scene and make an assessment of what was happening prior to deciding whether to request a field phone. He said that the field phone was available from the Technical Support Unit of the Garda Sı´ocha´na. His evidence was that the seeking of a field phone would only arise at the instigation of the negotiator and after detailed and substantive verbal contact and subsequent telephone contact. He thought that at the time he set out for Abbeylara from Dublin the question of the use of a field phone was at a relatively far remove. He said that he wished to see how he progressed with the equipment that was already at the scene. He knew that the landline had been reconnected to the house, and that Mr. Carthy had a mobile phone.
In the letter of recall written by the Tribunal to the relevant senior officers, they were each asked the following:
‘‘Were they aware of the availability of a field phone and of its possible uses? If so, did they request or consider requesting that a field phone be brought to the scene? If not, was there a reason for this? In this regard I direct your attention to the evidence of Inspector Michael Flynn on day 108.’’
Inspector Flynn was in charge of the Technical Support Unit at Garda Headquarters in the year 2000. He told the Tribunal that a scene commander or the divisional officer at an incident could request equipment or personnel from the unit and a decision would be made on the deployment of such equipment or personnel by the appropriate officers in the unit in conjunction with the requesting officer.
Assistant Commissioner Hickey’s reply to this request was:
‘‘I was aware of the availability and possible use of a field phone. There was never a consideration that it be brought to the scene as John Carthy had a landline and a mobile phone, neither of which were used to engage with the negotiator.’’
Assistant Commissioner Hickey went on to state that he was not concerned about any third party, over whom the gardaı´ would have no control, such as the media, contacting Mr. Carthy. He said he had no evidence that such was a risk. In accepting that he never considered the possible use of a field phone he also accepted that there was a possibility that Mr. Carthy could have contact and be contacted by persons other than the gardaı´ and over whom the gardaı´ had no control.
Chief Superintendent Tansey
Chief Superintendent Tansey said in reply to the letter:
‘‘I was aware of the availability of a field phone. The use of a field phone is contingent on a number of issues, the arrival of a stage of substantial engagement in the negotiation process and if that is achieved, which was not achieved in this case, then secondly agreement with the subject on the safe delivery of the field phone to the stronghold. There are already two telephones in the house, but John Carthy would not engage’’.
He said that if the subject did engage on the telephone, either the landline or the mobile phone, he could not foresee a situation where a field phone would be mentioned to him for a number of hours into that interaction. He thought it would have the effect of possibly putting back the negotiation process. Accepting that there may have been a place for a field phone down the line had good interaction been established, Chief Superintendent Tansey pointed out to the Tribunal that a field phone had never been used in Ireland in any siege operation. He said that while a field phone was not at the scene, it could have been obtained within a short period of time.
Superintendent Shelly replied as follows:
‘‘Yes, we were aware of its availability and its use. However, the use of a field phone is dictated by a number of factors:—
consistent and substantive degree of engagement of the subject; securing agreement on the method of delivery of the field phone.
In this particular case neither of those considerations were present. The gardaı´ were aware that John Carthy had two phones in his house’’.
He said that the delivery and use of such an item would depend on the degree of engagement with him and that this was of paramount importance in that it would be
a question of getting a field phone into the house safely so that he could use it. Superintendent Shelly said that in his view they never arrived at that situation. He said that the use of such equipment was dependent upon the level of co-operation that they received from John Carthy.
Superintendent Byrne Superintendent Byrne’s answer was:
‘‘Yes, I was aware of its availability and its possible uses. No, I did not consider the field phone be brought to the scene. The requirement for the field phone at the scene did not arise’’.
Detective Sergeant Jackson’s evidence
Sergeant Jackson stated that a dedicated phone would only be introduced after a substantial period of engagement, so as to reduce the risk of undermining the negotiation dialogue because of John Carthy’s suspicions. He took the view that he had not got to the first leg of this in that there was no real engagement by telephone. He said that the fact that any telephone would have to be brought from Dublin did not concern him greatly because of the time it would take to introduce the topic of a field phone with the subject and within which agreement would be reached with him for its delivery. He also thought that contact by mobile telephone would be as good, and if this could be achieved, it might cause further difficulty trying to get another dedicated phone to John Carthy.
In the Tribunal’s letter of recall, each of the senior officers was asked the following:
‘‘It is understood from the evidence of Superintendent Brown (Day 113) that video equipment/monitors were available in the Cavan/Monaghan Division of the Garda Sı´ocha´na in 1997. Were they aware of whether such video surveillance equipment was available to the Longford/Westmeath Division in April, 2000. If so, did they consider or discuss with anyone any potential benefits which this equipment might have at the scene.’’
Assistant Commissioner Hickey
Assistant Commissioner Hickey replied as follows:
‘‘I have been involved in operations using video at remote locations and would have no difficulty in requesting such equipment if required. Even at this stage I can see no benefits of using such equipment in the circumstances that prevailed at Abbe ylara.’’
Assistant Commissioner Hickey said in evidence that the benefit of the negotiation point at the wall was that Sergeant Jackson could see what was happening in the house and what John Carthy’s movements and demeanour were, and he thought that this was not something that could have been easily catered for by video equipment
or CCTV. Assistant Commissioner Hickey expressed concern as to where such a camera would be located and whether it could provide a target for John Carthy.
Chief Superintendent Tansey
Chief Superintendent Tansey replied:
‘‘Video equipment/monitors were not available within the Longford/ Westmeath Division in April 2000. I was aware that it was available from the Technical Support Unit. The use of it was not discussed. Had progress been achieved in the negotiation process that facilitated the establishment of a remote negotiation cell, and a remote command post, then the possible benefits of using such equipment would have been considered’’.
He said that as far as he was concerned everything revolved around the negotiating point and the progress of the negotiations. If that had been achieved, ‘‘then we would have considered moving to a remote base and certainly the introduction of monitors would be live in so far as that was concerned’’. He went on to say that he had postponed consideration of the issue to see how matters progressed.
Superintendent Shelly in answer to this query said:
‘‘I knew that this equipment wasn’t available in Longford/Westmeath Division in April, 2000. However, it could have been obtained from Garda Headquarters. On the basis of the method of command which I employed at the scene, I was of the view that managing the scene at a remote location with the use of technical equipment was not a consideration. Detective Sergeant Jackson remained at his negotiation position because John Carthy did not engage in any meaningful way by the use of the telephone’’.
He said that while he accepted that this equipment could have been installed without John Carthy’s knowledge, the disadvantage was that the negotiator would be looking at a monitor where nothing would happen and nothing could change. Accordingly, he didn’t see the reason for it.
Superintendent Shelly was asked whether he considered contacting the technical support staff in Garda Headquarters and requesting them to dispatch such technical equipment as a field phone, listening devices or monitors or CCTV monitors? He stated that he did not because the level of engagement with John Carthy was never such that any suitable method of delivery of such equipment could have been arrived at nor could officers retreat and rely on such equipment in circumstances where there was no substantive contact with the subject.
Superintendent Byrne Superintendent Byrne said that:
‘‘I was aware of the equipment and monitors and their potential use. I did not consider their deployment at Abbe ylara’’.
He said that in the context of trying to make contact with John Carthy and communicating with him, he could not see that going away and leaving a camera fixed on him would be of any benefit.
Dr. McKenzie thought that best practice would suggest that a box should be available for negotiators containing:
i specialised telephone equipment and other sensors.
i laminated A5 sheets, outlining signs and symptoms of common mental disorders, with broad warnings about and/or indicators of possible negotiation strategies.
i a supply of specially designed logbooks for use by key personnel at incidents such as Abbeylara.
i portable, voice-activated tape recorders together with a supply of tapes and batteries.
He also said that it should be the responsibility of a designated member of the negotiation team to collect the box from its central storage point and transport it to the scene.
10. Duty times
Detective Sergeant Jackson’s evidence
Sergeant Jackson took up duty on 19th April at 7:00 a.m. at Castlerea, Co. Roscommon. His duty involved the escort of a prisoner from Castlerea Prison to the High Court in Dublin. At approximately 12:30 p.m. he terminated this escort duty and returned to Harcourt Square Garda station in Dublin for refreshments. He said that he took up duty again at 3:00 p.m. on a VIP escort in the Dublin area and remained on this escort until 7:40 p.m. approximately. At that time he received a telephone call from Inspector Hogan who informed him that he was sending him to Abbeylara to act as the garda negotiator. He arrived there shortly after 10:00 p.m. From the time that Sergeant Jackson commenced his negotiations he remained at the scene, primarily at the negotiation post until 5:30 a.m. on 19th April. He then took some rest in a vehicle that was on the Abbeylara side of the command post and returned to the negotiation point at approximately 8:00 a.m. At approximately 3:20 p.m. on 20th April he left the negotiation point again and went to a garda vehicle for a rest period returning to the negotiation point at 4:30 p.m.
In evidence Sergeant Jackson said that at some time prior to his going to rest at 3:20 p.m. on 20th April he had spoken to Superintendent Shelly who had asked him how he was coping or holding up and he told him that he was happy to continue. He said that while it wasn’t discussed at that stage, it was on his mind that if the incident proceeded into a second night, he would need to be replaced.
Detective Garda Sullivan’s evidence
Garda Sullivan took up duty at 7:00 a.m. on 19th April at Harcourt Square Garda station in Dublin. He said that he was detailed for duty for VIP escort in the Dublin area, and was due to finish duty at 3:00 p.m. on that day, but his recollection is that he continued with that work after 3:00 p.m. He thought that he was joined by Sergeant Jackson some time after 3:00 p.m.
The Experts’ views and analysis
Mr. Bailey said that the overriding responsibility to initiate enquiries as to the hours worked rests with the scene commander. He said:
‘‘In my opinion, the hours worked by members of the ERU who were deployed to Abbe ylara on Wednesday were excessive although I have not seen any evidence that the hours worked by individual members played any part in the outcome of the incident. In my view, it is best practice for the tactical or scene commander to have responsibility to ensure that all personnel deployed to the incident are replaced when appropriate and do not work excessive hours.’’
Mr. Burdis thought that as a matter of good practice, Sergeant Jackson and Sergeant Russell should have told Superintendent Shelly that they had been on duty for twelve hours when they arrived at Abbeylara. He thought that the senior officers should have taken much greater care over the welfare requirements of Sergeant Jackson and his colleagues. He thought that they remained on duty in close proximity to the scene for far too long. He also said that in his view Superintendent Shelly should have required that there was an adequate programme for the replacement of officers put in place from the time of the initial response.
It was his belief that as a general guide a negotiating team should work a twelve-hour shift, the coordinator having the responsibility for arranging replacements for himself and the team. The training received by Sergeant Jackson, suggested that as a general guide a new team should be deployed, as arranged by the coordinator after a twelve-hour shift has been completed. This may vary according to the circumstances and should take account of the length of time every individual has already been on duty prior to the incident commencing.
Mr. Burdis was also concerned that in the light of the fact that Sergeant Jackson failed to make any real impression on John Carthy in the course of the negotiations, some consideration should have been given by the scene commanders as to whether or not he was too weary to try new ideas, ploys or tactics. Mr. Burdis thought that this difficulty could also have arisen from Sergeant Jackson’s inexperience, and this is something that should have been to the forefront of the minds of the senior officers.
Mr. Lanceley said that in the United States, in an incident lasting 24 or 25 hours, three to four negotiators would be used per shift. The number used would depend on the intensity of the negotiations and the negotiating effort. He said that in the United States twelve-hour shifts were generally operated, although he himself thought that a twelve-hour shift was too long and he had observed negotiators making mistakes through tiredness and frustration. He himself would prefer ten-hour shifts. He thought that the length of time of duty was to a large extent dependent on a number of factors including the intensity of the negotiation effort.
The evidence on recall
In the letter of recall each of the senior officers was asked the following:
‘‘Was consideration given to requesting that the tactical team or negotiators/ negotiation team should be relieved, changed or that their numbers be increased? If not, was there a reason for this?’’
Assistant Commissioner Hickey
Assistant Commissioner Hickey replied to this question as follows:
‘‘I was aware that consideration was given to relief for personnel involved in negotiation and tactical aspects. On the Thursday morning I became aware that Detective Sergeant Jackson had a rest period earlier. I was present when three members of the ERU arrived at lunchtime and I had been aware that they were on their way’’.
Assistant Commissioner Hickey, by virtue of his position was not involved in the management of the issue of reliefs, but said that he was concerned about welfare issues when he arrived on the morning of 20th April. He asked Superintendent Byrne whether or not the officers had been in a position to have any rest during the night. Superintendent Byrne confirmed that this was so.
Chief Superintendent Tansey
Chief Superintendent Tansey replied:
‘‘I was not present at the scene on the morning of the 20th April. However, I was aware that the scene commanders’ training course would have prepared the scene commanders and made them conscious of the possible necessity to relieve members of the tactical team and negotiation team. The continuous assessment of the performance of individual team members would be a priority. I knew that members of the Emergency Response Unit were accustomed to working long hours in stressful situations and were trained for such operations. I know that they are trained to a very high standard of physical and mental fitness. I am aware that their training prepares them for situations that require great stamina, sleep deprivation etc. I knew that the leaders of the tactical and negotiation teams would arrange reliefs for their team members in conjunction with the scene commanders as the necessity arose. Three extra members arrived on the 20th April and were suitably deployed. At a conference to be
held at 6.00 p.m. on 20th April the subject of the changing of the tactical team and negotiation team were subjects for consideration’’.
In relation to the criticism voiced by Mr. Burdis to the effect that there was no indication that Chief Superintendent Tansey was aware how long the members of the ERU and the negotiator had been on duty, and that this is a normal type of welfare matter that senior officers address as a matter of course (which also involves planning at least 12 to 24 hours ahead as part of preparing contingencies beyond the immediate situation), Chief Superintendent Tansey said that he assumed that the ERU personnel sent by Detective Chief Superintendent Walsh were fit to do their job and carry on through the night. He himself did not make any enquiries from Superintendent Shelly as to the position in relation to the hours worked by the members of the ERU.
Superintendent Shelly replied as follows:
‘‘The issue of reliefs and replacement of all members at the scene, including the tactical team and the negotiators, was considered throughout the incident by me as scene commander. I was aware that members of both teams were taking rest periods. Where possible, I maintained regular contact with both D/Sergeants Jackson and Russell in this regard. The issues of reliefs and rest periods was addressed directly with both D/Sergeants Jackson and Russell. As the on-scene commander, I had first-hand knowledge of how all members were performing and as such I was able to assess the standard of their performance on the ground. In this regard I gave particular attention to the standard of performance of the tactical team and the negotiation team, andI was satisfied that they were equal to the task. Three additional ERU personnel were assigned to this duty on 20th April, 2000 and I had discussed with both D/Sergeants Jackson and Russell the issue of relief on the 20th April, 2000, as I was contemplating a complete change of personnel from 8:00 p.m. of that evening’’.
Superintendent Shelly did not know how many hours the members of the ERU had worked prior to coming to the scene. His only knowledge at the time of their arrival was that they had worked all day.
Superintendent Shelly said that subject to his intention to change personnel at 8:00 p.m. on 20th April, he was entirely reliant on the ERU to advise him as to when they would change personnel.
Superintendent Byrne answered the question as follows:
‘‘In respect of rest and relief; a short time after the commencement of my tour, I enquired as to the status of all members at the scene including the ERU tactical and negotiating teams. As the incident progressed, consideration was
given to the requirement of having additional ERU personnel attend at the scene’’.
In evidence he said that his enquiry was ‘‘how are they for sleep or how long were they working and that some of them had worked a good proportion of hours on the day of the 1 9th as I had myself’’.
He said that he made this specific enquiry from Sergeant Russell and Sergeant Jackson, and was told by them the specific duties that they had carried out earlier in the day. He said that he was ‘‘reassured by the two sergeants that everybody was mentally and physically very fit, and from whatI observed the two sergeants certainly were. So I had no real concerns at that time.’’ He said that as a matter of practice and subject to finding that there was some need to intervene, the local superintendent, who is the scene commander, leaves the question of the ERU reliefs to the ERU themselves.
11. The Negotiating efforts Negotiation team make-up
The experts’ views and analyses Mr. Burdis
Mr. Burdis told the Tribunal that negotiating is the art of persuading angry people to comply with strategy set by the scene commander to give up peacefully. In order to achieve this outcome, there must be a predetermined method for the gathering and management of information and intelligence. He stated that any negotiating situation requires a team comprising of at least two trained negotiators together with a loggist known as ‘‘a boardman’’. In addition there should be a coordinator who is also trained in negotiation.
Mr. Lanceley said that in the United States a typical crisis negotiation team would have a primary negotiator who is the principal communicator with the subject. There would also be a secondary negotiator whose responsibility includes monitoring the negotiations and maintaining a negotiation log; providing the primary negotiator with discussion topics; providing support for the primary negotiator, and relieving the primary negotiator as required. He also said that a negotiation team leader would supervise and monitor the team and would act as a liaison officer with the scene commander and tactical team leader.
He said that regardless of the size of the law enforcement agency concerned, finding a secondary negotiator should be a priority. He thought that Sergeant Jackson had the absolute minimum number of negotiators for a siege of short duration, ‘‘but no more’’.
Detective Sergeant Jackson’s approach The experts’ views and analyses
Mr. Lanceley thought that Sergeant Jackson attempted many standard crisis techniques with John Carthy and that those approaches were ‘‘well done’’. Mr. Lanceley stated that he ‘‘would have been proud to have Mr. Jackson on his hostage negotiation team tomorrow’’. He said that he appeared to be a mature, well-trained officer and he skilfully applied the crisis negotiation techniques that he was taught.
Mr. Lanceley described ‘‘active listening’’ as a key technique. This technique involves the negotiator communicating to the subject that he is not only listening to the factual contents of what the subject is saying to him, but also to the emotional content behind the facts. He thought that this technique was reflected in many of the approaches adopted by Sergeant Jackson such as reassurance of John Carthy; expression of concern for his personal welfare; attempts to build him up in positive statements about him; attempts to inject some help and hope into the situation; confronting the issue of suicide directly, and the fact there was no requirement for any quid pro quo in the situation as there might have been in a hostage incident. From the point of view of developing rapport, Mr. Lanceley thought that the subject was actively avoiding its establishment.
As set out earlier, Mr. Lanceley’s primary criticism of Sergeant Jackson was in relation to the siting of the negotiation post.
Dr. McKenzie thought that Sergeant Jackson clearly understood the importance of active listening, empathy, echoing and feeding back. He thought that he was a skilled, thoughtful and knowledgeable negotiator who did his best to try and display the skills of active listening.
Dr. McKenzie thought that at some points in the negotiation process Sergeant Jackson was ‘‘winning’’; causing John Carthy to respond by trying to disengage himself from that situation ‘‘as rapidly as possible, quite often by firing his shotgun, to try to emphasise the separation of himself from what had just happened to him’’, as a demonstration ‘‘of his intention not to engage’’.
Dr. McKenzie had a number of criticisms which he described as very minor. The first of these related to an exchange after 8:00 a.m. on 20th April when Sergeant Jackson discussing the help that his family could be to John Carthy, asked him to ‘‘think about how good you would make them feel if you put the gun down and talk. If you won’t come out for yourself John then come out for them. Come on John, come on out’’. Sergeant Jackson said that his response was to put his head in his hands; he looked confused, and had an anguished look. Dr. McKenzie described it as an example of what is known in the literature of the ‘‘psychology of selling’’ as a ‘‘buy sign’’. This non-verbal behaviour suggested a moment of indecision which, Dr. McKenzie
thought that Sergeant Jackson failed to capitalise upon. Initially, Dr. McKenzie described this as ‘‘one of the few mistakes’’ that Sergeant Jackson made. In subsequent examination by counsel for the Commissioner, Dr. McKenzie accepted that categorising this as a ‘‘mistake’’ was probably too high.
Sergeant Jackson answered Dr. McKenzie’s criticism on the issue of this failure to recognise the ‘‘buy sign’’ by saying that he did recognise it as such and followed it through.
Dr. McKenzie also referred to an exchange that took place between Sergeant Jackson and John Carthy at 1:44 p.m. on 20th April when the negotiator said ‘‘John, please tell me what has happened to make you do all this, tell me about it, and canI help?’’ to which he received the response ‘‘I am going to get ten years for all of this, ten fucking years.’’ Dr. McKenzie referred to this response as being one of ‘‘negative fantasizing’’, in that John Carthy’s future prospects filled him with fear rather than enthusiasm or any positive thoughts. Dr. McKenzie thought that Sergeant Jackson failed to recognise that this was a negative admission by the subject and that he was apprehensive about his future.
Sergeant Jackson’s reply to this point by Dr. McKenzie was that his belief that John Carthy was contemplating or thinking about something that might happen subsequent to the siege, albeit negatively, was to some degree positive for two reasons; the first being the whole question of the suicide issue, and secondly that he may have been considering his position in relation to emerging from the house.
Mr. Burdis thought that after the loudhailer was shot from the wall on 20th April there was a period of communication which contained significant exchanges between Sergeant Jackson and John Carthy. These took place by way of mobile phone. Mr. Burdis thought that there was more depth to the conversations that took place at this time, and that they offered an opportunity to develop a relationship whereby Sergeant Jackson might continue to make these contacts by use of the mobile phone rather than by the loudhailer. Mr. Burdis said that it appeared that Sergeant Jackson was only using the mobile phone on a temporary basis until a replacement loudhailer could be brought, and once that had arrived he went back to using the loudhailer.
In relation to particular aspects of the negotiations; Mr. Burdis thought that Sergeant Jackson should have explored John Carthy’s animosity towards and grievance with the gardaı´. He would have wanted to explore levels of trust by opening a conversation about the grievance. In relation to Sergeant Jackson’s assessment of the grievance as ‘‘10’’ on a scale of ‘‘1 — 10’’, Mr. Burdis thought that the difficulty with this was that Sergeant Jackson did not know the nature of the grievance. Mr. Burdis said that it is a negotiator’s role to reduce the level of antipathy. He thought that what Sergeant Jackson should have been trying to develop was trust between Mr. Carthy and himself rather than trust between John Carthy and the Garda Sı´ocha´na.
In reply to this Sergeant Jackson said that he had raised the issue of the animosity in a ‘‘more general sense.’’ He said that not withstanding the fact that the issue of the alleged assault was not known by him during the course of the negotiations he had measured John Carthy’s mistrust of the gardaı´ at ‘‘the optimum’’.
12. Contact with Dr. Cullen
The evidence in connection with the initial contact between Garda Gibbons and Dr. Cullen at the outset of the incident, and the subsequent contact made by Detective Garda Campbell in the early morning of 20th April is already specified in Chapter 4.
In this context Superintendent Shelly was written to by the Tribunal and asked the following question:
‘‘The evidence indicates that there was knowledge from early in the evening of the 1 9th April 2000 of the following facts:
(a) That John Carthy suffered from mental illness and had had periods of in-patient psychiatric treatment at St. Loman’s hospital;
(b) That Dr. Cullen was John Carthy’s general practioner who prescribed regular mental health medication for him;
(c) That the doctor had warned Garda Gibbons that John Carthy was antagonistic towards the police.
Why did Superintendent Shelly not interview Dr. Cullen personally, or arrange for a senior officer to do so as a matter of urgent priority (vide the evidence of Superintendent Hogan, Superintendent Maher, Mr. O’Mahony and Insp. Jackson), to ascertain full information of the deceased’s state of mental illness and other related matters to enable the negotiator to plan a strategy? And also to ascertain the reason for the warning given to Garda Gibbons about John Carthy’s antagonism towards the police. When did Superintendent Shelly first learn that John Carthy had been medically examined by Dr. Cullen for personal injuries, allegedly sustained by him while under interrogation in police custody?
Is there an explanation for the failure to interview Dr. Cullen promptly on 1 9th April, or at all, prior to 4 a.m. on the following morning and never by a senior officer?’’
Superintendent Shelly replied as follows:
‘‘I was aware that Dr. Cullen had been at the scene from the outset and I was satisfied that he had been debriefed by Garda Gibbons. Dr. Cullen had been interviewed and I was satisfied that he had given all the information that he had to the gardaı´.
At the time I believed that Dr. Cullen had attempted to engage John Carthy to no avail.
I learned sometime after the incident on 19/20-4-00 that John Carthy had been medically examined by Dr. Cullen for injuries allegedly sustained by him in garda custody.
I don’t accept that there was a failure to interview Dr. Cullen on the 19-4-00 for reasons as already stated.
i Interviewed by Garda Gibbons at the outset of the incident on 19-4-00. i Interviewed by Garda Campbell early on 20-4-00.
i I interviewed Dr. Cullen on 20-4-00 at the scene.
I had requested Dr. Cullen to come to the scene on 20-4-00’’.
Superintendent Shelly’s evidence, i.e., that ‘‘Dr. Cullen had been interviewed [by Garda Gibbons] andI was satisfied that he had given all the information that he had to the gardaı´’’ is patently untrue. The information furnished by the doctor to Garda Gibbons was sparse (see Chapter 8).
It did not include:
i. any amplification of or explanation for the warning given by Dr. Cullen about his patient’s antagonism towards the police;
ii. the involvement of Dr. Shanley as the psychiatric specialist treating the subject;
iii. the furnishing of relevant medical reports in Dr. Cullen’s possession; and
iv. ascertaining whether the doctor had any advice which might be helpful to the negotiator.
None of the foregoing matters were put to him by Garda Gibbons, Garda Campbell or by Superintendent Shelly in their interviews with him. Garda Gibbons’s debriefing fell far short of what was required as Superintendent Shelly ought to have been well aware. Knowledge of the involvement of Dr. Shanley and the medical records in Dr. Cullen’s possession would never have come to light but for the intervention of Sergeant Jackson circa 3:00 a.m. on 20th April which led to Garda Campbell’s visit to the doctor at that time. The negligence of both scene commanders (particularly Superintendent Shelly) in this crucial area is manifest.
The passages from the evidence of Mr. O’Mahony, the director of psychological services in the Prisons Division of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (about the importance of obtaining information from a subject’s treating doctor, referred to in the question posed to Superintendent Shelly and set out in more detail below), were put to him in examination, and he agreed that this was part of his training. He agreed that the benefit of obtaining this information soon, and as quickly as possible, allows the negotiator to plan a strategy.
Superintendent Shelly said that the reason he did not direct any person to further interview Dr. Cullen on that date was that the doctor had been there and he had spoken to the gardaı´. He said the gardaı´ had also spoken to members of the family.
He said the situation was ongoing and he believed that at that stage of the incident, that the doctor had given as much information as he had.
When asked in the context of the fact that John Carthy had serious mental illness in the past, necessitating in-patient treatment in St. Loman’s hospital, was it not important to have someone interview Dr. Cullen to ask him for further information that he may have. Superintendent Shelly said:
‘‘Yes, it was important. As I said, it was done in the manner it was, I wasn’t underestimating it, Chairman, but that was howI managed it at that time’’.
In relation to the warning Dr. Cullen gave to Garda Gibbons about the fact that John Carthy might be ‘‘aggressive towards’’ the gardaı´ in view of the incident with the mascot goat and his detention in the station in Granard, Superintendent Shelly was asked why Dr. Cullen was not asked about the source of, or the cause for this antagonism, and said:
‘‘As I said, I have tried to explain this as bestI can. There was no reason why. I mean I spoke to the man, he was very helpful and he wanted to be helpful. I could say that had I been told I would have known butI didn’t ask him and I cannot put the matter any further than that. There was no reason whyI didn’t do it, we had learned, come a good way at that time, as you said with the communication with Dr. Shanley and that. That was done and I presume — I probably did speak to him about that, and that communication had been made at that end, but that is as far as I can put the other issue for you. I am sorry, butI cannot put it any further’’.
Superintendent Shelly agreed that it was part of his role to make inquiries and when it was put to him that asking Dr. Cullen the reason for John Carthy’s antagonism towards the gardaı´ might have been a suitable inquiry to make, his reply was, ‘‘Yes. I didn’t make it, that is allI can say’’.
He went on to agree that it would have been an appropriate and suitable inquiry to have made.
Superintendent Byrne was asked whether it had crossed his mind that it might be beneficial to inquire from Dr. Cullen why he gave the warning to Garda Gibbons and what was the reason for it in his mind. Superintendent Byrne replied:
‘‘No, it didn’t. Having spoken to the gardaı´ and from what I had gleaned and heard from several people, I was very satisfied Dr. Cullen was most helpful and was giving full — call it cooperation, for want of a better word — anxious to assist us. I assumed that he had given us all that was available to him at that time’’.
When asked whether it was fundamental to the issue as to how the gardaı´might deal with John Carthy, that they would need to know why he was antagonistic towards the gardaı´, Superintendent Byrne said:
‘‘Now, I wasn’t aware of that, we will say, on 19th at10:00/10:30, but I understood from my discussion with Thomas Walsh that John had many difficulties in his life, I didn’t consider that the Garda incident was a particular problem; it was a problem’’.
Superintendent Byrne further stated that:
‘‘Dr. Cullen was promptly interviewed on the 1 9th April and re-interviewed at 4 a.m. on the 20th April 2000 by Garda Campbell and subsequently interviewed after 9 a.m. on the 20th April by Superintendent Shelly’’.
Detective Sergeant Jackson
Sergeant Jackson agreed that at the outset of the incident it was important to ascertain the phase of the bipolar disorder that John Carthy was in at the time when negotiations were about to start. In that context he was asked whether it might have been prudent for him to have asked Superintendent Shelly to arrange to have Dr. Cullen interviewed to see whether he had any views on this, more particularly bearing in mind the fact that Dr. Cullen had already been at the scene and had observed John Carthy’s behaviour. His reply to this was that he was in possession of a substantial amount of information in relation to Mr. Carthy at that time, and it was not to the forefront of either his or Superintendent Shelly’s mind to be ‘‘crossing every t and dotting every i’’. He went on to say that it was felt that the initial information that they had was enough to go and talk to John Carthy, and to try and make contact with him. He said that intervention at that stage was the primary concern, and that he relied on the people that had dealt with Dr. Cullen, he being the front line negotiator.
In this context, on his recall, the view that Mr. Burdis had that Sergeant Jackson should have been a prime mover in securing the attendance of Dr. Cullen, Dr. Shanley and Mr. Regan at the scene was put to Sergeant Jackson. In response he said that in his belief the:
‘‘issues that Mr. Burdis raised were addressed, maybe not to his satisfaction as he has indicated, butI think I was a prime mover in aspects of those’’.
Sergeant Jackson agreed that from his arrival at 9:50 p.m. on 19th April, to 3:30 a.m. on 20th April, the medical information that he had was that John Carthy had serious ongoing manic depression for which he was being medicated on lithium. This was part of a ‘‘block’’ of information that he had received from Superintendent Shelly. He agreed that this information was not exhaustive but stated that his primary concern as a negotiator was to begin talking to John Carthy out of fear for his, John Carthy’s safety, and for that of Garda personnel.
13. The role of psychiatric or psychological support
The role of an independent psychiatrist or psychologist in a siege situation was explained by Dr. McKenzie in his evidence as follows:
‘‘It is increasingly common for psychologists and/or psychiatrists to be called by the police to the scene of an incident such as this at an early stage. The purpose of so doing is to provide a triple-pronged resource. Firstly, the psychologist may be able to provide useful cues to the negotiator and possible negotiation ploys. Secondly, he or she may provide a professional oversight of the negotiator(s) who are not exempt from psychological risk when building rapport and conducting negotiations. Thirdly, such a professional may be able to provide beneficial links to others, both in the criminal justice system and in the psychiatric/psychological services world.’’
Mr. Lanceley echoed this in his evidence saying that the mental health professional’s input would have been reassuring to the officers, help them understand what they were up against and, possibly, even help them in peacefully resolving the incident.
He also said:
‘‘One of the ways an M.H.P. [mental health professional] can be very helpful is with patient confidentiality problems. In the U.S., it can be difficult for a police officer to call a doctor and get information that would generally be considered privileged. If an M.H.P. telephones a doctor and they can speak doctor to doctor, it is easier to get the information. Additionally, while looking for useful information for the crisis management team, many law enforcement officers would not know what to ask an M.H.P. and would not know what information was of importance.’’
Dr. McKenzie explained in evidence that psychiatrists and psychologists associated with the police would be people not only with an understanding and expertise in negotiation and the work of negotiators, but also a significant knowledge of the organisation of the police force that they were working with, preferably having trained with that force.
Evidence was given to the Tribunal that the position regarding the employment of psychologists by police forces varies internationally. Some police forces engage psychologists on a contract basis and maintain a panel, while others employ dedicated full-time experts in that area.
Superintendent Maher (in the course of his evidence about the lectures he gave on the Operational Commanders Course, during the time of his involvement in the training provided as part of the Superintendents Development Course, which was attended by Superintendents Shelly and Byrne), stated that the relevant lecture indicated that the services of a clinical psychologist were available to the Garda Sı´ocha´na in siege operations, if required. The name of Mr. O’Mahony, clinical psychologist, was referred to in the lecture. Mr. O’Mahony was the director of psychological services in the Prisons Division of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. He held that post from April, 1980.
The evidence of Mr. O’Mahony
Mr. O’Mahony’s evidence on his involvement with the Garda Sı´ocha´na was that in late 1988 or early 1989 he was asked to offer assistance to the Garda Sı´ocha´na in the area of hostage negotiation. He agreed to help, the arrangement being an informal one. He took part in a hostage negotiation course of two weeks’ duration in January, 1989, and he was asked to offer professional advice on the behaviour and personalities of hostage takers and also to support negotiators. He attended a further day-long training exercise for negotiators some time later. He said that his input to the course was brief and he lectured about areas such as depression; suicidal behaviour; and persons who may be suffering from stress or threat arising out of a domestic situation. In his lecture he concentrated on behaviour from a psychological perspective and also to some extent various types of illnesses that one could expect to encounter. On this course he learned about the system and the process by which negotiation takes place. He was of the view that his participation in the course was somewhere between that of lecturer and student; the line was blurred. He had no further contact with the organisers of this course until a further course was held in March, 1993. This included a day-long exercise at Dublin Airport. Again, he said he attended both as student and observer. He stated that it was his belief that he was involved as part of a national hostage negotiation team. He had no further contact with that team after the course in 1993. He was never called to an incident. In 1996 the Department of Justice set up a working group to oversee the development of protocols for hostage taking incidents within the prison system, and Mr. O’Mahony assigned Mr. Colm Regan, a member of the Department’s psychology service to undertake the psychological component of this work. In doing so he told Mr. Regan that he had been involved with the hostage negotiation team for the Garda Sı´ocha´na, but that as far as he was concerned ‘‘it had been a dead letter for a very long time’’.
He did not assign anything to do with the Garda Sı´ocha´na to Mr. Regan, because he (Mr. Regan) had no experience or training. Mr. O’Mahony retired from the Prison Service on 31st December, 2001.
Mr. O’Mahony said that it was important that a subject’s treating doctor should be fully consulted regarding the state of the patient’s mental health and his assessment of him, as ‘‘that is a source from which the best available information is to be found so it will be absolutely essential. It would be a matter of urgent priority’’. He said the negotiator has one hand tied behind his back if he doesn’t have the kind of information that will emanate from the treating doctor. He observed that if a mental health person on the team is there, he is a vehicle through which information from the treating doctor can be translated to the negotiation team. He agreed that it would be difficult for a non-medical person to ascertain all of the relevant medical information and that a psychologist or psychiatrist would be able to speak to the treating doctor in his own language and be able to assess what is important and what perhaps is not very important.
Mr. Colm Regan’s involvement with the Garda Sı´ocha´na
Mr. Regan stated in evidence that in 1994 he took up the position as clinical psychologist at the Department of Justice; the psychological service forming part of
the then Prisons Division which is now the Irish Prison Service. He has contributed to the hostage management programme for the prison service since 1996. His competence and experience relating to the psychological aspects of hostage situations is in the prison context. Mr. Regan never attended a Garda Sı´ocha´na hostage negotiation course nor has he ever been requested to attend such a course. He was never involved in a situation where he had been called upon by the Garda Sı´ocha´na to attend at or assist in relation to an incident taking place outside the confines of a prison. He was never given any role or assigned any role in the context of training, lecturing to or assisting the Garda Sı´ocha´na in their hostage negotiation courses.
The events of 19th and 20th April, 2000
It was against this historical background that Mr. Regan was contacted by Sergeant Jackson in the course of the incident at Abbeylara. Sergeant Jackson said that he knew Mr. Regan was a clinical psychologist working in the prisons section of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. He thought that he was involved in their negotiation team. He said that on his way down to Abbeylara from Dublin on 1 9th April he had endeavou red to contact Mr. Regan by telephone and left a message on his answering machine. At approximately 8:30 a.m. on 20th April, Mr. Regan contacted him.
The evidence of Detective Sergeant Jackson
Sergeant Jackson said that the purpose of this consultation was to obtain professional advice about dealing with depressive people such as John Carthy and he was looking for any advice that Mr. Regan could offer, if he could offer it. He was not sure whether or not Mr. Regan would be able to offer him help or guidance. Sergeant Jackson said that he was aware of the psychologist’s role being a dual one, namely assessing the subject’s behaviour in the stronghold and assessing the negotiation strategy and even the performance of negotiators. It was in that general sense that he contacted Mr. Regan to invite him to tell him (Sergeant Jackson) if he felt he could offer any advice or help in the matter. He described his contact as being purely on a ‘‘consultatory basis’’. Sergeant Jackson said that he was looking for professional help about dealing with depressive people. When asked whether this was so, why he had not contacted Dr. Cullen and subsequently Dr. Shanley, he said that Mr. Regan was someone who had a degree of experience in relation to ‘‘negotiation strategy etc.’’ Sergeant Jackson did not mention anything about John Carthy’s request for cigarettes or for a solicitor to Mr. Regan. He said that the latter told him that he was not able to offer ‘‘any huge assistance’’ given the fact that he was removed from the scene and as such was not able to offer advice. Sergeant Jackson said that when he made Mr. Regan aware of the possible psychiatric problems affecting John Carthy, Mr. Regan advised him to make contact with the relevant psychiatric services. Sergeant Jackson thought that Mr. Regan’s position on the matter was that as he was at such a far remove from the situation and was not in tune with the dynamics of it, it would be inappropriate and unwise for him to offer any specific advice. Sergeant Jackson said that he believed Mr. Regan was available ‘‘for him to contact on an advisory capacity in the Department’’. Sergeant Jackson said that there was no panel
of designated psychiatric specialists available to negotiators. Sergeant Jackson did not ask Mr. Regan to attend the scene or to contact Dr. Cullen. When Sergeant Jackson was asked whether it would have been a wise course to ask Mr. Regan to contact Dr. Cullen on the basis of his professional knowledge and understanding, he agreed that this was a ‘‘a very valid point’’ and said that in other jurisdictions this is the mechanism that is utilised by police psychologists.
The evidence of Mr. Regan
Mr. Regan gave evidence on the conversation which he had with Sergeant Jackson on the morning of 20th April as follows:
‘‘I think it was a brief conversation regarding an ongoing incident at Abbe ylara that Detective Sergeant Jackson was involved in trying to resolve. We spoke generally about the circumstances of the siege and the person involved andI explained to Detective Sergeant Jackson at the time that being at such a remove from the scene, not being on scene and not having any role with it that, I couldn’t really comment on it and it would be unwise or inappropriate to do so. He indicated to me that there may be psychiatric issues involved or that the person may have a history of psychiatric consultation andI advocated or advised him that he should refer to that person’s psychiatrist and get assistance from there, that that was the most appropriate course of action and the person who would be most helpful’’.
He did not receive any request to go to the scene and he had never been involved in a situation where he has been requested by the Garda Sı´ocha´na to attend any scene that was not in a prison. He said that he never had a role as a psychologist within the Garda Sı´ocha´na and he was not aware of any agreement between the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Garda Sı´ocha´na for him to act in such a role. He said that in his conversation with Sergeant Jackson he spoke generally of the importance of actively listening to John Carthy and of providing him with alternative options to help resolve the situation.
The experts were critical of the fact that there was no psychologist on hand to support the scene commander and Sergeant Jackson, and also that the relevant arrangements for having such a psychologist on hand were not put on a formal footing. Mr. Burdis thought that in particular it would have been helpful for Sergeant Jackson to have had some assessment of whether or not John Carthy intended to cause himself some physical harm. He thought that the failure to secure the services of Dr. Cullen, Dr. Shanley or Mr. Regan at the scene was a serious shortcoming in the operation. He thought there was an obvious value in having professional psychiatric advice on hand, but there was no evident assessment of this by the senior officers.
The recall evidence
In the recall letter the senior officers were asked the following:
‘‘Were they aware of whether the services of a clinical psychologist were available to the Garda Sı´ocha´na at that time? If so, did they give consideration to arranging the attendance of such a person or expert at the scene.’’
Assistant Commissioner Hickey
Assistant Commissioner Hickey replied as follows:
‘‘I was aware of the existence of such a service under the auspices of the Department of Justice. I did not personally know Mr. Regan, butI discovered shortly after arriving in Abbe ylara that Detective Sergeant Jackson had made contact with him. In the event, he was not in a position to provide assistance’’.
Assistant Commissioner Hickey said that his impression from the training that he was involved in was that Mr. O’Mahony was available to give advice. Mr. O’Mahony never attended any training or practical exercises in which Assistant Commissioner Hickey was involved. When asked as to whether he saw a role in asking Mr. Regan to contact Dr. Cullen, he said that he would find it difficult to visualise Mr. Regan finding out any more from Dr. Cullen or Dr. Shanley than was found out in any event.
Chief Superintendent Tansey
Chief Superintendent Tansey’s reply to the question from the Tribunal, was as follows:
‘‘I became aware that Detective Sergeant Jackson had endeavoured to make contact with a clinical psychologist on the evening of 1 9th April without success. I became aware that Detective Sergeant Jackson had made contact with Mr. Regan, clinical psychologist, on the morning of 20th April and that he had said that he was at a loss in respect of giving advice or becoming involved in the negotiation process. He advised to contact the relevant psychiatric services.’’
Chief Superintendent Tansey said that his training course did not refer in detail to the benefit of having a psychologist speaking to the treating doctor in his own language and knowing what type of question should be asked of that doctor. While Chief Superintendent Tansey was not at the scene at the time this telephone conversation took place, he did not subsequently direct Sergeant Jackson to contact Mr. Regan again to see could he assist by contacting John Carthy’s doctors.
Chief Superintendent Tansey did not accept Mr. Burdis’s criticisms about the assessment of the value of having professional mental health advice on hand and reiterated the contact that had been made with Dr. Shanley in support of his rejection of this criticism.
Superintendent Shelly replied to the question as follows:
‘‘Yes, I was aware of the existence of the services of a clinical psychologist to the Garda Sı´ocha´na.
The advice of the clinical psychologist was sought through Detective Sergeant Jackson, the negotiator; however, he could be of no particular assistance to us in this matter.
Consequently, the negotiator, Detective Sergeant Jackson did not request his attendance at the scene’’.
Superintendent Shelly said that he was aware from his training that a psychologist was available to liaise with the negotiator and assist him.
Superintendent Shelly was not aware that such a psychologist could also provide a professional oversight on how the negotiator was performing. Nor was he aware that such a person could provide a link between any medical personnel treating the individual and the police. He understood that that would be between the negotiator and the psychologist. Superintendent Shelly thought that any contact that would occur with a psychologist who was available in the Department of Justice would be made by a negotiator. Superintendent Shelly did not know the identity of the psychologist. Superintendent Shelly did not speak to Sergeant Jackson about the desirability of contacting the psychologist or bringing him to the scene at any stage prior to Sergeant Jackson contacting Mr. Regan. When he learnt of the fact that Sergeant Jackson had contacted Mr. Regan he did not suggest that the negotiator should contact him again and ask him to attend the scene, the reason being that he was informed that the negotiator and Mr. Regan had discussed the matter and that Mr. Regan could be of no particular assistance.
Superintendent Byrne replied to the question as follows:
‘‘I was aware of this service; through the negotiator contact was made with Mr. Regan with a view to ascertaining what assistance he could be’’.
Superintendent Byrne said that he had been informed during his training of the availability of a psychologist attached to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. He did not know his name and had never met him. He was aware of the potential role that a psychologist could play at the scene. He said that he understood that Sergeant Jackson had spoken with the psychologist and that he (the psychologist) ‘‘wasn’t available or he just couldn’t come, he had no role to play was the word I got back.’’ He thought that Mr. Regan had advised contacting the local psychiatric services. This was the reason why Superintendent Byrne did not direct that Sergeant Jackson request Mr. Regan to come to the scene.
Detective Sergeant Jackson
In the Tribunal’s letter of recall, Sergeant Jackson was asked the following:
‘‘Did he give consideration to requesting the attendance of a clinical psychologist at the scene?’’
His reply to this was:
‘‘The expertise that the clinical psychologist could provide was considered and Mr. Regan was contacted on that basis. This may take the form of a telephone contact, continued phone contact or attending the scene. In either case, it must be predicated by making verbal contact with the psychologist and ascertaining his views on the incident. On making contact with Mr. Regan he felt at a loss to assist and indicated that it would be unwise for him to offer an opinion and he recommended the psychiatric services relevant to Mr. Carthy be contacted’’.
On his recall Sergeant Jackson reiterated his earlier evidence on this topic as already set out and went on to say that he did not consider asking Mr. Regan to contact Dr. Cullen or Dr. Shanley. When Mr. Regan told him that he did not see himself in a position to assist, that aspect of the conversation did not ‘‘go any further’’.
14. Third party intermediaries Introduction
The expression ‘‘third party intermediaries’’ or ‘‘TPIs’’ refers to the use of persons, other than members of a police force, who are involved in the resolution of an incident, to attempt dialogue with a subject as part of a negotiation strategy. Such a person may typically be a friend or family member of the subject. At Abbeylara, several TPIs were utilised in an attempt to engage John Carthy in dialogue. These were Thomas Walsh, Martin Shelly (Pepper) and Sean Farrell. Other people were mentioned to John Carthy by name and his response to them noted, namely: his sister, Marie, his mother, Rose and his psychiatrist, Dr. Shanley. Immediately prior to John Carthy exiting his house, arrangements were being made by the officers at the scene to facilitate dialogue between John Carthy and his sister, Marie, and with his treating psychiatrist, Dr. David Shanley.
Sergeant Jackson gave evidence to the Tribunal on the training he received in March, 2000 in relation to the use of TPIs. Guidelines on the London Metropolitan Police course established that the use of TPIs is likely to arise for consideration approximately four hours into a siege-type situation. The training divided TPIs into two categories — ‘‘high risk TPIs’’ and ‘‘high gain TPIs’’. ‘‘High risk’’ relates to such persons as emotionally involved relatives, diplomats, politicians and the media. ‘‘High gain’’ refers to such persons as legal representatives, detached professionals and respected relatives.
In relation to emotionally involved relatives, his training stressed the need to acquire, and independently assess, as much background information as possible on the nature of the relationship between the parties and what help they might be in a position to give. The scene commander should be ‘‘careful and cautious’’ in using emotionally involved relatives and be alive to the fact that the subject may utilise such a relative as an ‘‘audience for suicide.’’ It follows that any potential intermediary should be fully assessed in terms of their relationship with the subject and their potential impact on the scene.
When an intermediary is proposed, regardless of whether the subject has requested them or not, the subject must be aware of what is being planned and must accept and be willing to speak with the intermediary proposed. Sergeant Jackson, in explaining that the introduction of an intermediary necessarily involves the negotiator relinquishing a certain degree of control, stressed the importance of briefing the intermediary in relation to what they will find at the scene; the method of communication to be employed and the areas or subject matters that they may discuss with the subject. It is also important to check that the proposed intermediary is willing to act in this capacity and that they understand that difficulties, such as abusive comments, may occur. The intermediary should be informed that they will be guided in what to say and how to respond to the subject. A contingency plan should be agreed in advance should the need to terminate the discussion or interaction arise.
The training envisaged that most interaction between an intermediary and a subject will occur over a telephone or in a face to face scenario. In relation to face to face negotiations, training emphasised the safe management of the intermediary given the fact that they are entering an environment that is unstable. Whether the intermediary will have eye-to-eye visual engagement with the subject or just dialogue from behind a ballistic screen or other form of cover will depend on the dynamic of the situation. Sergeant Jackson was aware of another situation that is utilised in the United States whereby messages from an intermediary are recorded, either on audio or video cassette, and played to the subject.
Experts’ views and analyses
Mr. Lanceley was sceptical of the benefit of using TPIs at Abbeylara. As a general proposition he believes that TPIs should not be utilised in negotiations. He explained that in the United States negotiators make a concerted effort to avoid the use of third party intermediaries and that it is in a situation like Abbeylara that he would be least likely to use them. ‘‘The avoidance of TPIs may appear to be unkind or counter-intuitive, but the practice is based upon cruel experience.’’In the United States, he explained, TPIs have prompted homicides and suicides and, in some circumstances, have themselves been killed. Mr. Lanceley was not aware of any four-hour time frame or guideline after which the likelihood of using TPIs may arise for consideration.
Mr. Lanceley noted John Carthy’s responses to the third party intermediaries and potential third party intermediaries at Abbeylara. He invited the Tribunal to consider the response of John Carthy to each individual, setting it out as follows:
‘‘Tom Walsh: Met with hostility... [and on the second attempt at dialogue] . . . Mr. Carthy’s shotgun, intentionally or unintentionally was pointed in Walsh’s general direction.’’
‘‘Martin ‘Pepper’ Shelly: No response.’’
‘‘Sean Farrell: no response though Mr. Carthy looked distressed. Detective Garda McCabe reported that Mr. Carthy appeared to be sniggering during this time. He at one stage levelled the shotgun and pointed it at the negotiation position.’’
Mr. Lanceley also invited the Tribunal to consider the response of Mr. Carthy to the mention of the following individuals:
‘‘Dr. Patrick Cullen: Extreme hostility and shot fired at the mention of his name.
Rose Carthy: When Mr. Jackson told Mr. Carthy that ‘his mother is very worried about him and that she cares for him a lot.’ Mr. Carthy laughs and says, ‘you haven’t lived with her for ten fucking years’.’’
‘‘Marie Carthy: No response. When his sister Marie is mentioned, he ‘smirks’ and fires a shot and on another occasion, he merely laughs. Mr. Carthy discharges a round when told that Marie is on-scene.’’
It is pertinent to note that in the early afternoon of 20th April, the subject endeavoured to contact his sister by mobile phone after his call to Kevin Ireland.
‘‘Dr. David Shanley: at the mention of his name Mr. Carthy makes no response other than a smile and a laugh.’’
The primary problem identified by Mr. Lanceley and Dr. McKenzie in using TPIs is that the negotiator cedes control of the negotiations to a person who is not trained in negotiations and the management of sieges. One way of maintaining control that has been used in the United States (in the rare circumstances when TPIs are used) is to tape-record the message from the TPI to the subject. ‘‘If you just put someone live on the telephone’’, Mr. Lanceley warned, ‘‘you can’t control what they say and often they say some outrageous things’’. ‘‘The problem is,’’ he explained, ‘‘sometimes they work very well, sometimes there is no response. Sometimes they set back the negotiation and sometimes their use leads to disaster and you never know... third party intermediaries always bring extra baggage’’. With this caveat firmly expressed, Mr. Lanceley was of the view that the TPIs that were used at Abbeylara were ‘‘briefed very well’’, in that they had been briefed as to their responsibilities and what areas they should cover and what areas they should avoid, and that they ‘‘performed well . . . I didn’t see any of the TPIs say anything that was particularly harmful to the negotiation’’. However, he was critical of what he perceived to be a lack of appreciation for the level of danger inherent in the incident and especially of the
position of the negotiation post which he believed left the negotiator and third party intermediaries ‘‘too close to the Carthy residence and too vulnerable to hostile fire’’.
Considering the use of third party intermediaries at Abbeylara, Mr. Lanceley concluded that:
‘‘it did not appear that the use of TPIs was leading to anything other than possible agitation, danger and emotional upheaval to both the TPIs and Mr. Carthy. Yet, the Garda persisted in trying to find someone to solve the problem for them. Detective Sergeant Russell seems to have recognised the problem. Russell said that he was concerned that Mr. Carthy’s conduct had become what he described as ‘‘erratic’’ and for this reason, recommended to Superintendent Byrne that no further visits by non-gardaı´ should be considered at that time. TPI individuals are always convinced of their ability to assist and are always shocked and hurt when the subject rebuffs their loving attempts to assist. The incident ceased being a family problem when Mr. Carthy took up his shotgun and caused his mother to leave the house. It then became a law enforcement problem’’.
Dr. McKenzie was equally concerned by the use of third party intermediaries at Abbeylara. saying that the ‘‘commonly held view, rigidly adhered to for many years by those engaged in teaching negotiation techniques, is that third parties, including friends and families, should not be involved in direct negotiation with the subject.’’He told the Tribunal that this is ‘‘doubly true when mental illness is known to be a dynamic. In some mental disorders’’, he explained, ‘‘tense or equivocal family relationships can be a key factor in their aetiology. Such matters are beyond the ken of the police, particularly in the opening stages of an incident, and for that reason, the use of family members should be avoided.’’Accepting that there are some circumstances in which the use of third party intermediaries may be acceptable, Dr. McKenzie stated that ‘‘their use is to be carefully considered’’. He was particularly concerned by the early use of TPIs at the scene. He stated that it is a core principle of negotiation that in the early stages of a siege the only person with whom the subject has contact is the police negotiator; ‘‘it is only from him or her that reinforcement should emanate’’.
Dr. McKenzie said that there may be a lack of control over TPIs in the absence of specialised police equipment such as a secure phone, or field phone. Like Mr. Lanceley, he did not see that the use of TPIs at Abbeylara caused any particular problems but he regarded their use as ‘‘unfortunate ... there was what I can only describe as an unseemly haste to try and involve family members... There was no, I think, real consideration given to the fact that the family members could easily (a) have said something which was beyond the control of the police; or (b) might have been the very cause, the trigger in fact of what was disturbing John Carthy at that time. Nobody knew’’.
Dr. McKenzie also referred to John Carthy’s response to the mention of his mother’s name as an indicator of the potential danger of introducing third parties including
family members. He told the Tribunal ‘‘best practice would suggest that, in the absence of comprehensive information about friends and family gathered over an extended period, the unpredictability of such encounters, regardless of the nature of any ad-hoc briefings, is at best unwise and at worst counter-productive’’.
Detective Sergeant Jackson’s response on recall to the expert analysis
Sergeant Jackson told the Tribunal that he was satisfied that ‘‘it was the correct decision; that it did not hamper negotiations in any shape or form and there was a potential benefit to be derived from their use’’. He recognised that certain difficulties can arise in relation to the use of family and friends as TPIs, but was adamant that no such issues arose at Abbeylara. He stated that the capabilities of the TPIs were assessed along with an assessment of their willingness to act in this capacity. He informed the Tribunal that background information was obtained about each person and an assessment was made of the relationship with John Carthy. He stated that no adverse or potentially adverse effects were ascertained. Further, relatively strict control was administered from the negotiating post. Stressing that nothing was said or done that inflamed the situation, Sergeant Jackson stated that:
‘‘the proof has to be in what actually occurred. It did not cause a difficulty at the scene. I think outside of training and outside of best practice, I think you do have environment factors. Rural Ireland is a very family-orientated society. People were concerned for John’s welfare, andI think the unnecessarily rigid application of a rule in relation to all intermediaries may not have been appropriate in this case’’.
Potentially successful TPIs?
Consideration was given at the Tribunal to whether a person, other than a member of the Garda Sı´ocha´na, whom Mr. Carthy had confidence in and trusted, was likely to have the best prospect of meaningful dialogue with him. In particular the Tribunal considered the role of Ms Marie Carthy and Dr. Shanley in this regard.
Psychiatric evidence on this issue
Dr. Sheehan, having considered this proposition, stated: ‘‘Mr. Carthy was mentally ill. He probably had no or limited insight. He was probably manic, paranoid and suffering from both alcohol and nicotine withdrawal. His mother had left the house because of his behaviour. [Not so. She left at his request.] He was antagonistic towards the gardaı´. He was probably paranoid about them. It would have been very difficult for anyone to gain his trust and confidence’’.
Professor Fahy was asked if, in his view, anyone might have been effective in communicating directly with John Carthy. Professor Fahy stated that he saw little in the evidence to give any cause for optimism in this regard:
‘‘approaches from friends and so on were rebuffed in very firm terms. He pointed a gun at a friend... I suspect that as the events progressed, he was becoming more inaccessible, especially towards the end, where it seems communication virtually shutdown. In general,’’ he told the Tribunal, ‘‘I would have felt quite pessimistic at the prospect of a professional or a relative being able to entice Mr. Carthy into a very constructive exchange or resolution’’.
Professor Fahy was further questioned by the Chairman in relation to whether, in light of John Carthy’s known antagonism towards the Garda Sı´ocha´na, it may be feasible to consider that he would have decided or entertained the thought of surrendering his gun to someone whom he trusted and had high regard for, who was not a member of the force. Professor Fahy explained that such consideration would have to be premised on the assumption that John Carthy was thinking clearly at the time and he, Professor Fahy, was not sure that he was thinking strategically and clearly at the end.
Potential use of Marie Carthy as a TPI
The scene commanders, Superintendents Shelly and Byrne, together with Assistant Commissioner Hickey and Chief Superintendent Tansey were asked by the Tribunal whether they considered the possibility of bringing Ms Carthy to the negotiation point, and, if not, why not?
Superintendent Byrne was acting scene commander when Ms Carthy first arrived at the scene in Abbeylara at approximately 11:00 p.m. on 1 9th April, having been brought by the gardaı´ from her home in Galway. At this time she was interviewed, along with Martin Shelly and Thomas Walsh, in relation to the possible motivation for her brother’s behaviour. Ms Carthy and Martin Shelly repaired to a nearby house owned by Mr. and Mrs. Devine, opposite the church in Abbeylara where it was intended that they would spend the night. At approximately 2:00 a.m. on 20th April, Mr. Shelly was brought to the negotiation point to try and initiate dialogue with John Carthy. The latter had agreed with the negotiator’s suggestion about two hours earlier that ‘‘Pepper’’ should be brought to the scene. There was substantial delay in finding him although he had been delivered to Devine’s in a garda car. Ms Carthy, accompanied by her friend Patricia Leavy, also attended at the scene with him. Marie Carthy told the Tribunal that she ‘‘practically begged’’ the police to allow her to speak with her brother. However, she was not allowed down to the negotiation point at this time. She stated that she was worried and upset about John and conceded that she may have tried to push past Superintendent Byrne in an attempt to get down to the negotiation point. Superintendent Byrne prevented her from getting past.
Superintendent Byrne said that Ms Carthy was not brought to the negotiation point at this time because the negotiation effort was concentrated on arranging for Martin Shelly to speak with John Carthy. In response to a direct request from Marie Carthy to speak with her brother, Superintendent Byrne replied, ‘‘No, not at the moment, Marie.’’He went on to explain:
‘‘I was calling her by her first name; we were quite friendly at that stage because I had met her three times, [since her arrival from Galway] twice before and this was my third time to meet her. She did attempt to go by me and I prevented her. I put out my arm andI blocked her passage and she went to go the other side of me, she made two attempts and I prevented her from going down because I said it wasn’t right at the time. Martin Shelly, he wanted Martin and we wanted to bring Martin down to him to resolve the situation . . . John had been told we were getting Martin for him and we weren’t going to bring any surprises to John like. We wanted him to trust us and that was the whole tenor through our entire negotiation’’.
Superintendent Byrne, having given evidence that, in his opinion, Marie Carthy was under the influence of alcohol at this stage, was of the firm view that, alcohol or no alcohol, she would not be brought to the negotiation point at that time and that such decision had been made prior to her arrival at the scene early on the morning of 20th April.
Superintendent Byrne’s allegation that Ms Carthy was allegedly drunk when she was brought to the vicinity of the negotiation point with Martin Shelly and Ms Leavy at circa 2:00 a.m. on 20th April, was not borne out by the latter witnesses and was strongly denied by Ms Carthy herself. As already stated in Chapter 4, there is uncontroverted evidence that when Ms Carthy was in Devine’s house before retiring for the night, Mrs. Devine suggested that she (Ms Carthy) and others might have a hot whiskey. She agreed and had one such drink only. This was confirmed by Mr. Devine. There is no evidence that that single drink affected Ms Carthy’s sobriety then or later when brought by the police to the scene with Martin Shelly and Ms Leavy. She also denied having had any other alcohol that day. In that regard Mr. Devine stated in evidence that when Ms Carthy and Mr. Shelly arrived at his house, they ‘‘had definitely no drink’’ taken. I am satisfied that he was a credible, truthful witness. Superintendent Byrne did not detect any smell of alcohol from Ms Carthy. He was unable to explain why no reference was made in his log to her sobriety or insobriety when brought to the scene circa 2:00 a.m. He conceded that there was no question of insobriety when he met and spoke to her on two other occasions in course of the previous three hours.
Garda Campbell gave evidence of having met Ms Carthy when she arrived with Mr. Shelly and Ms Leavy at the scene. He described her as being agitated and upset and anxious to go down to the negotiation point to speak to her brother. He stated that he did not form any view that there was anything else (other than agitation and upset) wrong with Ms Carthy at that stage. He was then asked by counsel ‘‘could you form a view as to whether or not she was under the influence of alcohol or she was being affected by alcohol or under the influence?’’ to which he replied ‘‘I would
have formed that opinion, yes’’. This is contrary to the answer he had already given to Q. 969 in the transcript for Day 14. His change of evidence indicates that his testimony is unreliable. I do not accept Superintendent Byrne’s allegation of Ms Carthy’s alleged drunkenness. (See also my observations on Superintendent Shelly’s evidence hereunder.) However, I do accept that Ms Carthy may have a volatile personality; that she was upset and distressed about the tragic situation in which her brother was at that time and that she was anxious to speak to him as soon as possible. It is reasonable that the negotiator decided not to introduce her then, as she had not been prepared by the gardaı´ for that function, and that he would concentrate on Martin Shelly only as a potential intermediary at that time as his presence had been specifically sought by Mr. Carthy.
As to the use of Ms Carthy; it is evident that the appropriate course would have been to postpone availing of her as an intermediary until she had been carefully questioned and briefed by an experienced officer, who was familiar with events at Abbeylara, and her opinion had been canvassed on how her brother’s anger and fears might be defused. Her thoughts in that regard and other background information she might have been able to give had potential significance in planning negotiation strategy. It was also important to prepare her for her function as an intermediary with her brother. There is no evidence that any steps were taken regarding the interrogation of Ms Carthy on the foregoing matters or to prepare her for participation in negotiations. Although it had been made clear to the gardaı´ that she was the person her brother turned to when distressed by outbreaks of mental illness, her potential was never availed of by the negotiator or the scene commanders — an extraordinary omission by them which has not been explained. I note that strenuous efforts have been made in the interest of the gardaı´ to downgrade Ms Carthy’s potential importance as an intermediary with her brother. This has extended to dishonestly obtaining erroneous press coverage suggesting that she did not have a good relationship with him. That matter is dealt with in my Ruling on 19th November, 2004 which is contained in Appendix 7.K to this Report.
Superintendent Byrne confirmed that prior to Ms Carthy’s arrival at the scene he had consulted with Sergeant Jackson as to whether she should be allowed to attempt dialogue with her brother. It was agreed that the introduction of Martin Shelly as a third party intermediary should be the focus at that time since John Carthy had responded positively to the suggestion that he be brought to the wall. Sergeant Jackson explained how he had mentioned Marie Carthy to the subject in the context of exploring what third party intermediaries could be of benefit at the scene. He was specifically asked, given that he was aware of a closeness between brother and sister, if he had given any consideration about whether Marie Carthy was an appropriate person to mention to the subject as someone that he could speak to rather than Martin Shelly. He replied that, as part of assessing the position in relation to intermediaries, they had background information to suggest that Ms Carthy, along with various other persons, would be potentially beneficial. If, he told the Tribunal, the mention of Marie Carthy’s name to John Carthy had produced some form of engagement with the subject whereby he agreed to speak to her or even asked for
her then this would have been facilitated as appropriate. He specifically mentioned Marie Carthy’s name in the hope of achieving this level of engagement.
In relation to whether or not he considered the possibility of bringing Ms Carthy to the negotiation point, Superintendent Shelly replied as follows:
‘‘The question of bringing Miss Marie Carthy to the scene was considered by me early in the incident as we recognised the potential value. It was arranged to have Miss Carthy brought from Galway on the evening of 1 9th April and she was accompanied by her friend Martin ‘‘Pepper’’ Shelly. At the scene the assistant negotiator, Detective Garda Sullivan spoke to Marie Carthy and enquired from her if she would speak to her brother and she agreed. John Carthy was informed of her presence at the scene. However he didn’t respond.
On the following day, 20th April 2000, we were aware that she was available to speak to her brother and this information was conveyed to John Carthy by the negotiator. Miss Carthy was an important person in her brother’s life and the offer to have her speak to him was made to John Carthy; however, he didn’t respond positively. Other persons close to John Carthy and respected by him did, in fact, speak to him at the scene, Tom Walsh, Sean Farrell and Martin Shelly and he was positive towards them. [In fact, he failed to respond to any of them as the superintendent, as scene commander, would have known.] However, the same response wasn’t forthcoming for his sister Marie, from John Carthy’’.
Superintendent Shelly clarified what he meant in relation to Mr. Carthy being ‘‘positive’’ towards others at the negotiation point in that he had agreed to or was at least agreeable to speaking with them and did in fact have some form of interaction with them. It was ‘‘regrettable’’ he said ‘‘that he didn’t respond in any way to allowing or wanting Marie, his sister, to speak with him’’.
This observation is contrary to John Carthy’s unsuccessful effort to contact his sister by mobile phone in the early afternoon of 20th April after his phone call to Kevin Ireland, a few hours before he left home and embarked on his fatal journey towards the car where his sister and Dr. Shanley were at the time. (He failed to contact his sister because he used an old number which had been recently changed.) This matter was investigated by Chief Superintendent Culligan and the following passage is at paragraph 62.4 of his Report:
‘‘087-6 708 137
Marie Carthy’s — refers to this as her old mobile. The fact that this number appears as the second number on the list of calls made from John Cart hy’s phone suggests that this number was called by John Carthy at some time after he called Kevin Ireland at 12.24 p.m.’’.
However, it is appreciated that in course of the siege Superintendent Shelly would not have been aware of John Carthy’s unsuccessful effort to phone his sister after his
conversation with Kevin Ireland on 20th April, nor would he have been aware then of the subject’s own assessment of his sister and of her importance in his life as appears in his correspondence with Ms X in February, 2000. (See Chapter 8 where the correspondence is quoted in full.) Nonetheless, the scene commander knew, or ought to have ascertained if Ms Carthy and other family members had been properly interrogated by experienced, well briefed officers, that she had a very close, loving and caring relationship with her brother as borne out by her efforts on his behalf in Galway in the previous January/February and early April when he had exacerbations of his mental illness. Failure to prepare Ms Carthy for possible contact with her brother during the morning of 20th April and failure to ascertain what information or opinion she might have about his motivation for violent conduct in defending the old family home, and her observations on how his anger might be defused, deprived the negotiator of potentially important information which could have been of significant advantage. Ms Carthy, her mother and other close family members were aware of crucial facts which had coalesced at the time of the siege in John Carthy’s mind i.e. the significance of the old house in the history of the Carthy family, in particular its association with the subject’s deceased father, who died on Holy Thursday ten years previously; the intended imminent demolition of the old home and John Carthy’s unsuccessful effort in correspondence in the name of his mother to prevail on the local authority to allow the family to retain the old house because of its particular significance to them. The gardaı´ were aware that John Carthy had intimated to his mother at the commencement of the incident that he was not going to surrender the old home to anyone and would defend it against all comers. Bearing in mind the imminent demolition of the building, this ought to have prompted the scene commander or negotiator to arrange with the county manager to postpone demolition pending further consultation with the subject and his solicitor on completion of his in-patient treatment under Dr. Shanley at St. Patrick’s hospital. That course might have defused the situation sufficiently to end the impasse. It was not adverted to by the gardaı´. No explanation has been given about why Ms Carthy was not interviewed in depth or on why she was not utilised as an intermediary with her brother.
Superintendent Shelly was further questioned in relation to what level of consideration was given to bringing Ms Carthy to the negotiation point. He stated that consideration was given to allowing her to speak to her brother on the night of 1 9th April and that this was in fact conveyed through the negotiator to John Carthy but no response was forthcoming. ‘‘We were anxious that that would be achieved, if at all possible,’’ he told the Tribunal. Superintendent Shelly was adamant that no decision was made to prevent Marie Carthy from speaking with her brother. In fact, he said, it was believed that it would have been a positive thing; they were hopeful that such contact could be arranged. He stressed this by pointing to the fact that Garda Sullivan was, to the end, trying to facilitate communication between brother and sister. Patricia Leavy told the Tribunal that she believed, both from hearing what Superintendent Byrne said to Marie Carthy and from her own discussion with the gardaı´ at the scene, that the intention was that Marie Carthy would have the opportunity to speak with her brother at an appropriate time.
Superintendent Shelly told the Tribunal that in April, 2000 his state of knowledge in relation to the use of third party intermediaries was that they ‘‘could be very helpful’’.
Chief Superintendent Tansey
Chief Superintendent Tansey, when questioned in relation to what level of consideration was given to bringing Ms Carthy to the negotiation point stated that he was not involved in such deliberations nor would he expect to be; this was a function of the scene commander. However, he stated his belief that it would have been necessary to get John Carthy to consent to any such arrangement.
Assistant Commissioner Hickey
Assistant Commissioner Hickey shared a similar understanding as Chief Superintendent Tansey. ‘‘I have no doubt,’’ he told the Tribunal, ‘‘that she would have been brought to the negotiating post, the same as the other friends, if John had agreed to talk to her’’. However, he felt that the use of third party intermediaries was most properly a matter for the scene commander.
Experts’ views and analyses Mr. Lanceley
Mr. Lanceley, noting John Carthy’s response to being told his sister is at the scene (smirks; fires a shot; laughs), posed a rhetorical question as to whether any thought was given to the possibility that bringing Marie Carthy to the scene might lead to disaster? As pointed out already, he does not seem to have been aware of the subject’s attempt to contact his sister in the early afternoon of 20th April.
Having regard to the potential involvement of Marie Carthy as an intermediary, Dr. Sheehan stated his belief that the person most likely to have been able to have dialogue with John Carthy was his sister, Marie. ‘‘It was to her that he had turned when becoming unwell in early April 2000’’, he explained. ‘‘She had also been with him in Galway in February 2000 at the time of his arrest. She had sought help for him. Furthermore, in his letter to his girlfriend in February 2000, he mentions only one family member by name, his sister Marie.’’ Dr. Sheehan also cited a solicitor and Dr. Shanley as other possible intermediaries. However ‘‘ultimately,’’ he said, ‘‘due to the severity of Mr. Carthy’s mental state, even though I have suggested that Mr. Carthy’s sister, Marie, a solicitor — or even Dr. Shanley — may have been able to intervene successfully, I do not think that they would have succeeded in de-escalating the stand-off to a safe level leading to a peaceful outcome’’.
Dr. Sheehan was asked his views in relation to the use of family members generally as intermediaries in situations where mental illness is involved. ‘‘In terms of general principles,’’ he replied ‘‘one would frequently involve a family member and more often than not that is very helpful, but when considering the situation with Mr. Carthy and his responses to, for example, the mention of her [Marie Carthy’s] name, and
firing the gun subsequently, on balance I don’t think — and it never happened so one can’t be sure — but I don’t think that she would have been successful in talking him down’’.
Potential use of Dr. Shanley as a TPI Detective Sergeant Jackson
Sergeant Jackson was questioned in relation to his understanding of what Dr. Shanley’s role at the scene would be. ‘‘I suppose it was twofold,’’ he said, ‘‘firstly, obviously, Dr. Shanley was John’s psychiatrist. He certainly could come and give us advice in relation to John’s background and in relation to what he would feel his areas were, we could try and encourage John into dialogue. Also, I was aware from the previous night from reading the report that John appeared to have a reasonably good relationship with Dr. Shanley and may be it may be possible that they may engage with one another. So, really, there was a dual role, as I saw it, for Dr. Shanley that if the circumstances prevailed that we could engage him with Mr. Carthy at that stage’’.
Dr. Shanley was specifically asked his opinion as to the likelihood of a person who John Carthy knew, had confidence in, trusted and respected, having the best prospect of meaningful dialogue with him. ‘‘I find it very difficult to deal with this question,’’ he said, and explained to the Tribunal:
‘‘In an abstract sense, one would expect that a person who John knew, had confidence in, trusted and respected, would have had the best prospect of a meaningful dialogue with him. However, this was a siege situation. I have only ever seen John in a clinical sense. I have no experience or expertise in the conduct of siege negotiation. However, it appears from Dr. Cullen’s evidence given to the Tribunal that his arrival on the scene on 1 9th April, 2000 did not elicit a positive response. Given John Carthy’s reaction to Dr. Cullen, I cannot say whether there was anyone else who might have had a better prospect of meaningful dialogue with him. Quite clearly, neitherI nor any lay person would have any of the training or expertise of the specialist Garda negotiators’’.
Professor Fahy told the Tribunal that he could
‘‘find little evidence from review of the medical records and transcripts that Mr. Carthy would have been amenable to interventions by his GP or psychiatrist during the siege. His mental state was highly irritable, he was overtly aggressive (firing his shotgun approximately 30 times), and he ignored or was critical of the overture of friends and close family... at the time of his death Mr. Carthy was only minutes from an overture from Dr. Shanley, but there was no good reason to suppose that that would have been effective in calming Mr. Carthy or preventing his subsequent self-destructive behaviour’’.
In agreeing with Dr. Kennedy that John Carthy’s unwillingness to engage in any sustained communication of any sort rendered the situation unusually difficult or impossible to bring to a safe and controlled conclusion, Professor Fahy thought it extremely unlikely that a clinician, even one known to John Carthy, would have had an impact in bringing the situation to an earlier or safer conclusion. However, Professor Fahy believed that Dr. Shanley would have been a helpful resource to the garda negotiating team in helping them to understand the nature of his mental illness.
In relation to using a subject’s own mental health professional as a TPI, Mr. Lanceley explained that this is not something which would be done or encouraged in the United States. A negotiator would consult with such a person but would not allow him or her to speak directly to the subject.
Dr. McKenzie viewed Dr. Shanley as a third party intermediary and, as such, was mindful of the problems associated with their use. He was of the view that ‘‘Dr. Shanley should not, save in extreme circumstances, communicate directly with John Carthy’’. However, he thought that the presence of Dr. Shanley at the scene, or at a minimum in repeated and regular contact via telephone, would have been a valuable resource; especially if a mental health professional had been present at the scene at Abbeylara to engage in ‘‘peer-to-peer’’ contact with Dr. Shanley. Dr. Shanley’s role at the scene should have been as a resource to ‘‘brief the police,’’ he explained: ‘‘to assist the police, but not actively to negotiate, unless and until it became crucial, by which I mean a specific request made by the subject of the siege that he wants to speak to his own psychiatrist or something of that kind’’. Dr. McKenzie introduced a further note of caution in relation to allowing Dr. Shanley to speak with John Carthy. Referring to the ‘‘ironic or sarcastic laugh’’ that emanated from the subject on the mention of Dr. Shanley’s name, Dr. McKenzie cautioned against assumptions that there is always a positive relationship between a psychiatrist and his or her patient. Noting the evidence that Dr. Shanley believed he had a positive relationship with John Carthy, Dr. McKenzie stated:
‘‘the only person who can ever really tell us whether that is really true is John Carthy himself. The ironic, sarcastic part of the laughing that Inspector Jackson refers to, suggests that Dr. Shanley might not have been quite the person that others, from an external point of view, think that he was, in relation to John Carthy... I don’t mean to denigrate the relationship between John Carthy and Dr. Shanley’’;
and Dr. McKenzie explained:
‘‘I am merely talking about the circumstances at this particular moment in time on the 20th April during the course of the siege ... the assumption that Dr. Shanley would necessarily be the appropriate person to help him, may be mistaken’’.
15. John Carthy’s requests
John Carthy made two requests for cigarettes, the first at approximately 3:25 a.m. and the second at approximately 10:00 a.m. on 20th April.
The 3:25 a.m. request
At the time of the first request Superintendent Byrne was the scene commander. Sergeant Jackson and Sergeant Russell gave evidence that prior to the first request they had discussed the question of how a delivery would be affected, should some request come from John Carthy.
Sergeant Jackson said that they had agreed that the best course of action for a delivery would be to maintain engagement and contact with John Carthy, ‘‘hopefully put the gun out of commission’’, and during this period while Mr. Carthy was engaged, effect delivery to the house from the rear.
‘‘Putting the gun out of commission’’
Sergeant Jackson said that this involved saying to John Carthy:
‘‘John, put the gun on the floor, come to the window, show us your hands and we will deliver the cigarettes around the rear, to the front door. We will move back’’.
Sergeant Jackson’s initial response was to explain to him that getting cigarettes to him should not be a problem, but they needed to talk about getting them to him, to which he received the response, ‘‘Fuck off and don’t bother’’.
In this initial engagement Sergeant Jackson explained to him that he wanted him to agree a safe method of delivery with the object being to engage him in dialogue and to try and develop a degree of trust. He described this as his first purpose, with the second being the actual delivery, involving John Carthy’s agreement to put the gun down on the floor; to come to the window; to show his hands and for the cigarettes to be left at the door.
At the time of this request Sergeant Jackson did not know that John Carthy was a heavy smoker. He viewed the request as significant with ‘‘substantial potential’’.
The witness said that he repeated these instructions to John Carthy on several occasions before a shot was fired at approximately 3:30 a.m. In evidence Sergeant Jackson accepted that the detailed instruction he said he gave to John Carthy was not in his original statement made to the Culligan Inquiry and adopted by him in the Tribunal. He furnished two supplemental statements to the Tribunal dealing with his visits to the scene after 20th April, 2000, but he did not include any reference to the instruction that he said he gave to John Carthy. Sergeant Jackson said that the broad position was set out at the start in his statement, and only became highlighted when the issue of the cigarettes as ‘‘a bargaining tool’’ arose after Dr. Shanley’s evidence.
(This latter matter is dealt with below.) Sergeant Jackson thought that this led to his position being misinterpreted, and that he was the only one who was able to articulate it.
He said that in giving his original statement he believed that its purpose was to assist in the official assessment of the garda actions in relation to the shooting of John Carthy; that assessment being carried out by Chief Superintendent Culligan and it was not an assessment of specific negotiation techniques.
Evidence of Detective Garda Sullivan
Garda Sullivan did not hear the actual request. He thinks it occurred when he was on refreshment duty. He said that on his return to the negotiation post, Sergeant Jackson was pursuing the issue with John Carthy.
On the question of the safe delivery Garda Sullivan said that he remembered Sergeant Jackson trying to agree a safe method; telling John Carthy that ‘‘he was very anxious to get him whatever he wanted and that cigarettes weren’t a problem but the gun was a problem’’.
Evidence of Detective Sergeant Russell Sergeant Russell said:
‘‘I expressed concern that we would have to agree a safe method of delivery and I asked him [Sergeant Jackson] could he get John to agree to just put the gun out of harm’s way until we got them, if he was going to offer him the cigarettes. He took my concern and he explained that to John Carthy himself. I heard him saying, he said he wanted to give him cigarettes, ‘but John we have to agree a safe method of delivery and we want you to put the gun out of harm’s way until we get them into you’’’.
Sergeant Russell went on to say that Sergeant Jackson asked John Carthy to ‘‘put the gun to one side’’ while they got the cigarettes to him, by which he meant, that if ‘‘he left the gun down and remained at the window, that we would be able to get the cigarettes in’’.
Sergeant Russell agreed that he explained this to Superintendent Byrne, and said that he would be able to get any item to him ‘‘provided we were satisfied that he would accommodate us in some fashion by just leaving the gun to the side’’. He agreed that if he had been given assurances in relation to safety, that he would have delivered the cigarettes to the door or the window.
The evidence to the Tribunal was that ‘‘bargaining’’ is a ploy more appropriately used by negotiators in conventional hostage incidents rather than a single subject incident such as that at Abbeylara. In the view of the experts, particularly Dr. McKenzie and Mr. Lanceley, it is what distinguishes hostage negotiations from crisis intervention.
The evidence was that, as a general principle, bargaining should not be used in a single subject incident.
The first specific reference to ‘‘bargaining’’ was in Dr. Shanley’s evidence on examination by counsel for the 36 named gardaı´ when the following exchange took place:
Q. ‘‘I think also, you mentioned earlier, Dr. Shanley, the question of cigarettes and getting cigarettes to Mr. Carthy. In fact, that came about I think, in response to a question from Detective Sergeant Jackson. Was there anything he wanted; how was he for food; was there anything he could do for him and he said he wanted fags — ‘Majors’ — and arrangements were immediately set in train by Detective Sergeant Jackson to get cigarettes to the scene?
A. I entirely accept that but it did appear to me, Mr. Chairman, on reading the transcript that it was very difficult for John to get those cigarettes and that it became a sort of bargaining tool andI understand that strategy, but I feel it might have defused the situation and demonstrated the good will of the gardaı´if, without any conditions, cigarettes had been allowed earlier rather than later’’.
It should be stated that in all of Dr. Shanley’s evidence he emphasised that he was not familiar with the principles of police negotiations in armed incidents of the type that presented at Abbeylara.
When asked to comment on Dr. Shanley’s evidence, Sergeant Jackson said:
‘‘The term ‘‘bargaining tool’’is normally associated with, as I would regard it, a conventional siege situation where you have maybe rational individuals inside who request an item or request something and nothing should be given without getting something tangible in return. For instance, a released hostage or some weaponry or ammunition, so that, in the broadest sense, is a bargaining tool. This case, as I have said already, was different to a conventional siege. Cigarettes were a means to engage John in dialogue. There was nothing tangible required for John to give, other than a degree of engagement with me, in order to deliver the cigarettes and that is as far as it went. There was nothing required for John to do in relation to the weapon, other than make it safe temporarily, to allow us to deliver the cigarettes. In a sense it is described by Dr. Shanley as a bargaining tool, it certainly wasn’t. As I have said, nothing was required from John, other than a degree of engagement. Nothing tangible was requested from him in relation to delivering the cigarettes. From John’s perspective — which is the key perspective here in relation to whatI am trying to do — he didn’t give up anything for the police to deliver the cigarettes’’.
The following exchanges then took place:
Q. ‘‘You have told us there that you saw it at the initial stages as a method of building rapport and trust with him and also that it was another avenue, whereby you could engage with him, isn’t that so?
A. That’s correct, Mr. Chairman, yes.
Q. From a number of points of view, this was an attractive proposition? A. Yes, Mr. Chairman.
Q. Did those attractive areas that you were going to be dealing with, did they overwean — sort of overpower — any question of getting, actually getting the cigarettes to him or was that of equal significance, the fact that the cigarettes should be got to him rather than dragging this out as a method of engagement, if you understand the question I am asking you?
A. Our position from the start was, we were going to give John the cigarettes, we wanted to give John the cigarettes. Nothing was required in return from John. All we needed to do was engage with him and deliver the cigarettes. It is as simple as that and that was the position on the day.
Q. I am just asking you at this stage, what did you see as the primary intention that you would have had at this, was it building rapport was it building trust or was it actually getting the cigarettes delivered?
A. It was an opportunity for both, it was an opportunity, no. 1, to build trust with John, by proving to him we were willing to deliver the cigarettes. It was an opportunity to develop rapport between myself and John. As I have said already it was a strategy that was embarked on with this in mind and the first part of that strategy was to invite a request from John which was successful and he did request cigarettes. The second part of that strategy was to engage him and talk to him and deliver the cigarettes to him, so it was a two-pronged approach and we had every reason to believe that, with a bit of perseverance, that could be achieved’’.
Superintendent Shelly, who was not the scene commander at the time of the first request was asked in evidence about the concept of bargaining and seemed to be unclear as to whether or not the cigarettes should be used as a bargaining ploy, but thought that this would be part of the exercise. This exchange was as follows:
‘‘Q. But you have told me that the cigarettes were being used as a bargaining ploy. This man so needs a smoke, that he will trade the gun for the cigarettes, that seems to have been the hope?
A. That would be part of-- yes, yes, Mr. Chairman -- if that was achieved, and that has been, in my experience, successfully attained in other operations.
Q. That means, you will get your cigarettes and satisfy your need for a smoke, provided you surrender?
A. Not necessarily, Mr. Chairman.
Q. Or part with the gun, in practical terms was surrender, was it not?
A. It certainly was, that would be part of the equation thatI am sure was in Detective Sergeant Jackson’s mind and certainly in my mind as well, yes.’’
Superintendent Byrne said that he understood the position was that all that was required of John Carthy was that he would co-operate in the safe delivery of the cigarettes and that:
‘‘we wouldn’t have liked to see the gun in his hands but that we could see John himself while the situation was developed, that another member could deliver the cigarettes or anything else, as I explained earlier, around to the doorstep’’.
Chief Superintendent Tansey
Chief Superintendent Tansey who was not at the scene at the time of either of the requests, stated in evidence that all of the issues surrounding the cigarettes were matters for the scene commanders he had appointed. He was asked the following question:
Q. ‘‘Chairman: I am just wondering whether the only thing that was of interest to the negotiators was the gun and/or the ammunition and they were the only bargaining counters that they wanted to talk about.
A. Well, that would be the situation — the situation was that the negotiator was anxious that the gun would be put beyond use. Great if he threw the gun out the window. But if he didn’t, if he actually threw some ammunition out the window or broke the gun and left it where it could be seen and he moved away from it. That is my understanding of the arrangement the negotiator was trying to enter into.’’
Chief Superintendent Tansey only learned of the request for cigarettes made by John Carthy, from Superintendent Shelly at some stage late in the morning of 20th April. He thought that he learnt of the second request for cigarettes before, if not at the same time as he learnt of the first request.
Assistant Commissioner Hickey
Assistant Commissioner Hickey said that his impression from Sergeant Jackson, when he discussed this issue with him on his arrival at the scene in the morning of 20th April was that for Sergeant Jackson ‘‘bargaining with the gun’’ was not the main issue. Assistant Commissioner Hickey went on to say ‘‘that, of course would be ideal, but it was to get John Carthy to focus on some issue and to try and engage with him’’.
Assistant Commissioner Hickey stressed that Sergeant Jackson emphasised to him that his (Sergeant Jackson’s) object was to try and engage John Carthy. Assistant Commissioner Hickey told the Tribunal:
‘‘For instance... if he threw out a cartridge, that would be a step in the right direction. If he broke the gun, but that in the early stages, that was still down
the road. It was to try and engage with him and, as has been said, I didn’t particularly ask Detective Sergeant Jackson why he didn’t throw a packet of cigarettes at the window. I would have thought, and indeed it crossed my mind, that if cigarettes were left outside the window at any stage, that would disimprove the situation, because, as it was, John Carthy was being contained in the house. I didn’t think that we should do anything to encourage him to come out in that respect. For instance, if he came out with the gun, the situation would have disimproved.’’
In the examination of Assistant Commissioner Hickey the following passage from Sergeant Jackson’s statement, which was confirmed in evidence, was put to the witness:
‘‘I told Superintendent Byrne about John mentioning cigarettes. I said that it is my opinion that it may be an area that can be developed when John finishes resting. I was of the opinion that delivery and discussions with John about the delivery of cigarettes would be beneficial in the process of building rapport and interaction between us and, thus, aid the negotiation process. In addition, the successful delivery of the cigarettes, after agreement with John, on a method of delivery would help build trust between us. The giving of cigarettes to John may also entice him into giving something in return, maybe agree to throw out some ammunition or maybe even the gun. Superintendent Byrne agrees with this assessment.’’
This passage relates to a conversation between Detective Sergeant Jackson and Superintendent Byrne after the 3:25 a.m. request for cigarettes.
Assistant Commissioner Hickey was asked whether that statement would represent a fair assessment of the various strands of benefit that Detective Sergeant Jackson communicated to him at the time of their conversation on the morning of 20th April, and he replied:
‘‘I would accept that, Mr. Chairman, but he did emphasise to me about engaging him, trying to engage him.’’
Sergeant Jackson was asked about the last two sentences of that part his statement quoted above and said in evidence:
‘‘As is said at the outset, our position or my position and the Superintendent’s position, was nothing tangible was definitively required from John in order to achieve the delivery of the cigarettes. If engagement took place with John either on one or possibly various other occasions, if trust was gained with John, it may also entice him in order to progress the process further to actually give out something tangible at a later stage and maybe even bring the situation to a peaceful conclusion. That was a strategy that was embarked on at the very beginning to engage with John, to try and develop a rapport with him. Once that rapport was developed about the pure delivery of cigarettes, with nothing required in return initially other than engagement. I stressed the words in my statement ‘may entice him’ so there was no suggestion of the necessity for that
to happen in order to get the cigarettes. But, as a negotiator and as somebody whose strategy should be ultimately aimed at brining the situation to a peaceful resolution, these were all things that need to be in your mind when you are trying to progress an incident. For instance, if in the exchanges John did agree to throw out some ammunition, really the value of that to us on the ground tactically is basically nil. But, what it does mean is that in John’s mind he has agreed to give us something back and that in itself would mean a lot more may flow from it. So, that is really what was intended in those lines after that.’’
In further answer to a question from the Chairman Sergeant Jackson said that the fact that ‘‘he may throw out some ammunition and eventually may give us the gun on that basis’’ was the objective which would be a consequence of the build-up of rapport between them.
The evidence as to why the cigarettes were not delivered after the 3.25 a.m. request
Sergeant Jackson said that at approximately 3:50 a.m. he spoke to Superintendent Byrne about the request telling him that the subject did not engage but he looked as if he was going to rest and appeared relatively calm. He said that he told Superintendent Byrne that this was an area that could be developed and progressed, but that the question of delivering cigarettes at that stage did not arise. He was hopeful that when John Carthy finished resting he would agree some degree of engagement in order to deliver the cigarettes.
Superintendent Byrne said that he had a discussion with Sergeant Jackson about leaving the cigarettes at the door or at the window while John Carthy was resting and said that Sergeant Jackson told him that it would not be beneficial to leave them without his consent or co-operation.
Superintendent Byrne said that it was not specifically a safety issue, the consideration being based upon whether or not the delivery would be beneficial, rather than whether it could be done safely, an issue that was to be considered in the context of the negotiation and negotiation technique.
Sergeant Jackson said that the primary reason for not delivering the cigarettes while John Carthy was resting was that it was an issue that could lead to engagement with him when he woke, but also said that if a covert delivery was made and he was to discover the cigarettes in the morning he may believe that his security had been breached leading to an undermining of his trust. Sergeant Jackson said that he was trying to conduct an assessment, balancing the advantage of delivering the cigarettes at that time, that is, that John Carthy’s nicotine dependency and his craving for cigarettes would be dealt with, and the disadvantage being a risk of the loss of the ability for further engagement, arising from the invasion of his space.
The 10:00 a.m. request Detective Sergeant Jackson
Sergeant Jackson said that at approximately 10:00 a.m. on 20th April John Carthy asked again for cigarettes, he thought by shouting out the window. This was as a result of a general query from Sergeant Jackson as to whether there was anything that he wanted, together with a specific reference to his earlier request for cigarettes the night before. Sergeant Jackson told the Tribunal that John Carthy’s actual reply in answer to the query was ‘‘fags’’.
Sergeant Jackson said that he told John Carthy that he wanted to deliver the cigarettes to him but the gun was the difficulty saying ‘‘what I want you to do is to put the gun on the floor, come to the window, show me your hands and while you are there, we will get someone to put the cigarettes at the front door. Then we will move back, the cigarettes will be there and you can come out and collect them’’. He said that he received no reply to this.
In his original statement made to the Culligan Inquiry and adopted for the purposes of the Tribunal, Sergeant Jackson said the following in connection with this request:
‘‘At approximately 10.00 a.m. John asked me again for Major cigarettes. I told John that this should not be a problem. As I have already mentioned I was anxious that we should get him the cigarettes as it would be a positive police action and may help build up some trust. I asked John to agree a safe way of getting the cigarettes into him. I said, ‘I want to get you the cigarettes but I am worried about the gun you are firing at us. Can we agree a safe way of getting them into you?’ No reply from John. Garda Sullivan relays the request for cigarettes to the command post. My advice to the scene commander was to allow the cigarettes to be delivered if a safe way is agreed for the delivery. Superintendent Shelly agreed. A delivery plan was formulated between the scene commander, Superintendent Shelly, Detective Sergeant Russell and I in the event of John co-operating’’.
Detective Sergeant Russell
Sergeant Russell said he discussed safe delivery with Superintendent Shelly, and told Sergeant Jackson that they would have to agree a safe delivery. He told the negotiator to ask John Carthy to leave the gun aside or ‘‘put it out of harm’s way’’ and that was duly explained to him. He said that the considerations for the delivery were the same as in the earlier request but with the added difficulty that they were dealing with daylight at the time of the second request.
Detective Garda Sullivan
In his original statement made to the Culligan Inquiry and adopted for the purposes of the Tribunal, Garda Sullivan said:
‘‘at approximately 10.00 a.m. John Carthy makes a passing request for cigarettes. Detective Sergeant Jackson tells him that wasn’t a problem. He told
him that we would get them for him. I relayed this request to Superintendent Shelly and sometime laterI collected the cigarettes at the command post and brought them to the negotiating point. Detective Sergeant Jackson informed Carthy that we had the cigarettes for him. Detective Sergeant Jackson emphasised to Carthy that it was too dangerous for us to bring them in while he had the gun, but if he put the gun down and came out he could have his cigarettes’’.
Garda Sullivan was asked in evidence whether it was the case that what he reported Sergeant Jackson said to John Carthy, about the cigarettes, occurred after he (Garda Sullivan) returned from the command post with the cigarettes? Garda Sullivan replied that this was something that was said by the negotiator at all times while pursuing the issue of cigarettes and, in particular in relation to this occasion, he heard him saying it at the time when the request was first made at 10:00 a.m.
When asked specifically whether he heard Sergeant Jackson saying to John Carthy ‘‘If you put the gun down and came out he could have his cigarette’’, he said that that sounded ‘‘very harsh. It wasn’t said in that fashion. It sounds like an ultimatum and certainly wasn’t said in that way. It is perhaps badly worded’’.
When asked to describe the way that he recollected this being said, Garda Sullivan said:
‘‘Detective Sergeant Jackson was pursuing the issue and trying to agree with John how the cigarettes could be delivered. He was emphasising that it was too dangerous, that he had a gun and he couldn’t possibly deliver the cigarettes to him while the gun was in his hands. That the gun was an issue and it was just too dangerous for anybody to attempt to bring them in. I recalled him trying, over protracted periods, trying to agree with John if a safe method could be arranged, that he would have no problem giving him the cigarettes. A lot of this time John was not responding and I don’t recall John making any suggestions in reply. Certainly Sergeant Jackson kept emphasising that the gun was a big issue in relation to the safe delivery and if there was any way we could agree a safe delivery, that we had no problem giving him the cigarettes. It was along those lines, Mr. Chairman’’.
Garda Sullivan was extensively examined on this topic, and in particular the fact that he did not include, in his statement made to the Culligan Inquiry, a passage that what was said by Sergeant Jackson to John Carthy was ‘‘along the lines’’ of ‘‘put your gun down and stand at the window and put your hands up and we will deliver them’’. Garda Sullivan said that he did not recall those particular terms at that time. He said that these terms were ‘‘consistent with a lot of the conversation he had or the dialogue he had in relation to cigarettes’’. He went on to say that the first time such a passage arose for consideration by him was when he heard Sergeant Jackson give evidence of it in the Tribunal.
Aftermath of the 10:00 a.m. request
Superintendent Shelly said that he learned of this request when he returned to duty on the morning of 20th April. He was anxious to obtain the cigarettes, and arranged for Garda Michael Carthy to go to Abbeylara village to purchase three packets of Major cigarettes and some matches. It emerged that the local shopkeeper said that Benson and Hedges were John Carthy’s brand. These were given to Garda Carthy. This was at about 10:00 a.m. on 20th April. In relation to the question of delivery Superintendent Shelly said that the safety of all concerned was of paramount importance and the issue of the gun had to be dealt with before any other plan could be proceeded with.
When the cigarettes arrived on the scene at approximately 10:50 a.m. they were delivered to the negotiation post. At approximately 11:00 a.m. Sergeant Jackson showed the cigarettes to John Carthy and again described the proposed method of delivery as previously described by him. He asked John Carthy to ‘‘please put it [the gun] down on the floor and come to the window and put his hands up at the window, we would deposit the cigarettes at the door and pull back and he could collect them there’’.
He responded by saying ‘‘bring them in’’ and beckoned to Sergeant Jackson with his hand. Sergeant Jackson said that this was said in ‘‘a sarcastic tone’’.
In evidence Sergeant Jackson said that he reiterated to him the need to agree a safe method of delivery and repeated the method he was suggesting. He said that in reply to this John Carthy said ‘‘fuck off and don’t bother’’ which he repeated when Sergeant Jackson again described the proposed method of delivery.
The evidence also established that there was no contact between either of the scene commanders or anyone on their behalf with any of the medical professionals on the question of the desirability, or otherwise, of the delivery of cigarettes to John Carthy, or the obtaining of advice on how from a medical viewpoint such a request should be dealt with.
Dr. Sheehan stated that maximum withdrawal symptoms occur between 24 and 48 hours following cigarette deprivation, and went on to say that:
‘‘. . . the absence of cigarettes was likely to aggravate his nicotine withdrawal and further increase his agitation, reducing the likelihood of him cooperating with the negotiator’’.
‘‘the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal would have started about two hours after his last cigarette reaching a peak between twenty-four to forty-eight hours later. In other words, Mr. Carthy could have been developing symptoms of irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, depression and insomnia after stopping his last cigarette. Symptoms would have been increasing in severity and almost reaching a peak over the twenty-two hour period. From a medical viewpoint the probability of a nicotine withdrawal state would have exacerbated Mr. Carthy’s already disturbed mental state. Clearly, it was not wise to allow the situation to develop. The possibility of nicotine withdrawal must be considered as a motivating factor in Mr. Carthy walking out of the house. If he had not smoked a cigarette for twenty-two hours, he would have significant withdrawal symptoms’’.
Dr. Sheehan was asked whether he considered nicotine withdrawal to be a predominant motivating factor driving John Carthy’s behaviour. He replied that it was impossible to say what the motivating factor was and that nicotine withdrawal was simply a possibility; one of a range of possibilities. He stated that in favour of nicotine withdrawal as a motivating factor was the fact that there was increased agitation in the number of hours before John Carthy emerged from the house and that the onset of the maximum withdrawal symptoms would also have coincided with the time that he left the house. Nicotine withdrawal would have disturbed further an already disturbed mental state.
Dr. Sheehan agreed with the Chairman that it was relevant that on exiting the gate John Carthy turned left and was walking in the direction of both the shop (supply of cigarettes) and his sister’s location.
Dr. Sheehan was asked to comment on Dr. Kennedy’s report in terms of nicotine withdrawal, where the latter expressed the view that nicotine withdrawal would have added little if anything to someone who has already reached maximum arousal. Dr. Sheehan stated that while he respected Dr. Kennedy’s view he felt it was a judgement call and that in his view the irritability and agitation and tension that comes with nicotine withdrawal would exacerbate the pre-existing agitation, arousal and irritability caused by the mania.
Dr. Sheehan was asked whether he agreed that John Carthy had a heavy dependence on cigarettes. Dr. Sheehan agreed. It was put to him that from the first request for cigarettes in the early hours of the morning of 20th April to the time of his exit from the house that evening that John Carthy had not hit the peak withdrawal effect of 24 hours. Dr. Sheehan agreed. It was suggested to Dr. Sheehan that John Carthy’s agitation and discharge of some 26 shots before he made his first request for cigarettes was unrelated in any way to their absence. [In fact 24 shots had been discharged prior to the first request for cigarettes at 3:25 a.m. on 20th April. The 25th shot was discharged at the negotiation post immediately thereafter.] Dr. Sheehan agreed that this was so. The witness stated that he felt that the question of nicotine withdrawal becomes more relevant as the hours go by because one is adding a
further irritant to somebody who is already irritable and aggressive in the context of mania.
He agreed that the mania would be the dominant factor rather than the nicotine withdrawal. Dr. Sheehan further agreed that if the first request for cigarettes coincided with John Carthy’s last available cigarette that his nicotine withdrawal symptoms had not peaked by the end of the siege; it would have been about two thirds of the way there.
Dr. Kennedy stated that nicotine withdrawal:
‘‘would in my view have represented a relatively minor irritation to Mr. Carthy. He was already so aroused and so cognitively impaired in his perception and reasoning that nicotine withdrawal could have added little, if anything’’.
Dr. Kennedy explained nicotine withdrawal in the context of psychological arousal and its effects on mental processes and performance. This he described as the ‘‘Yerkes Dodson Law’’. He explained that:
‘‘the state of deprivation leads to increasing physical arousal. Up to a certain point increasing physical arousal improves one’s performance, ... but beyond a certain level of arousal performance falls off and one begins to make mistakes. In a manic state, the arousal is maximum, it is as high as it can be and performance in various mental functions falls off, all sorts of mental capacities begin to be impaired. ... A manic state is pretty near to the maximum of arousal that one can have’’.
He went on to say:
‘‘the irritability, the adverse affects of nicotine withdrawal... is a much milder effect than could be described by mania. So what one is considering is the extent to which nicotine withdrawal would further exacerbate the arousal and further impair the already impaired performance of someone in a manic state. So what I am suggesting is that one is adding a feather to a brick, it would have an effect but not a great effect’’.
The aggravating effect could not be discounted but it would be small. He differed in his view from Dr. Sheehan on the extent to which he stated that irritability and agitation is increased as a result of not having cigarettes.
Professor Fahy agreed with the evidence given by Dr. Sheehan that withdrawal symptoms from nicotine begin about two hours after the last cigarette and that it reaches a peak between 24 to 28 hours after the last cigarette. Professor Fahy said that, if John Carthy was a heavy smoker, he would definitely have experienced unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Professor Fahy did point out however that although he may have been extremely uncomfortable, as a result of nicotine
withdrawal, it would not have explained his destructive, inaccessible, irrational behaviour. Professor Fahy agreed with Dr. Kennedy that an acute psychotic or an acute hypomanic episode is of a totally different order of magnitude in terms of a mental state disturbance compared with nicotine withdrawal. However he did accept that the nicotine withdrawal could only have made things worse and not better. Professor Fahy agreed that if there was a question of nicotine withdrawal it had not got to the stage of peaking when John Carthy exited the house on the evening of 20th April. He said however that it could have been uncomfortable for him.
Professor Malone undertook a study in the late 1990s while at Columbia University in New York to explore the association between cigarette smoking and suicidal behaviour in major psychiatric disorders. Up to that time it had been assumed that the apparent link between smoking and suicide attempts among people with severe mental illness was coincidental. Professor Malone anticipated that, if indeed the connection were coincidental, then one would expect to find no difference in the levels of cigarette smoking in a group of patients with severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, between those who had not attempted suicide and those who had attempted suicide at some point in their history. In the course of his study Professor Malone discovered that cigarette smokers with depression had lower indices of the neurotransmitter serotonin. He explained that serotonin is one of the key brain neurotransmitters involved in the regulation of mood, appetite and also impulsivity and restraint. Professor Malone’s study led him to hypothesise that the effects of chronic severe cigarette smoking are more profound than previously thought. In addition to the serotonin neurons being harmed, there was evidence that dopamine neurons were also affected. Dopamine, he explained, is a neurotransmitter involved in the experience of pleasure. Using his knowledge gleaned from this study Professor Malone posed two hypotheses; the first that because John Carthy smoked so heavily, nicotine craving and withdrawal would be likely to have occurred (a) earlier and (b) with greater intensity than had he been a mild to moderate smoker. The longer that John Carthy had gone without cigarettes the greater his vulnerability to the unpleasant and undesirable effects associated with nicotine withdrawal. Secondly he opined that as a result of the foregoing he had ‘‘greater vulnerability to centrally mediated, unpredictable behaviour’’.
Should the cigarettes have been delivered? — the experts’ views
Mr. Lanceley thought that John Carthy’s request was a non-substantive demand but questioned whether or not he really wanted the cigarettes, in that he did not demonstrate any willingness to co-operate in their delivery.
Having said that he thought that the benefit of providing cigarettes would include the likelihood of rapport being established as he would now see the gardaı´ and specifically Sergeant Jackson as being willing to work with him. Another benefit he saw was that the cigarettes may have helped calm him down, at least marginally.
He also thought that to allow John Carthy to believe that cigarettes would be delivered and then to decide, rightly or wrongly, that the delivery would not be done, was bound to cause problems.
Mr. Lanceley was of the view that generally speaking he would accede to such a demand ‘‘if he could do it safely’’. He thought that one must leave the safety decisions to the personnel at the scene and allow them to determine for themselves the level of threat to the personnel especially as they took enormous risks throughout the incident.
Finally, he thought that if a packet of ‘‘Benson and Hedges’’ cigarettes (rather than the ‘‘Major’’ brand requested by John Carthy) had been delivered this would have caused great difficulty, and would show that the negotiator was not listening and did not care about what he wanted, or knew better than he did about what he wanted; he thought that this could be seen as showing disrespect.
Dr. McKenzie said:
‘‘where there are no hostages, no demands and little to negotiate upon, the key feature, seems to me, is to keep matters under control, thus, the situation relating to John Carthy, the delay and possible prevarication in the delivery of cigarettes may have been unwise’’.
He thought that the cigarettes issue presented an opportunity for the police to use the cigarettes as positive reinforcers for acceptable behaviour. He said that:
‘‘the reinforcement process commences with a delivery of the reinforcer, unattached to a specific behaviour to create a need and is then gradually associated with positive behaviours’’.
He thought that appropriate delay and prevarication on the part of the authorities in responding to a request or a demand in a hostage taking situation may well prove counter-productive in a siege situation and that meeting the request of a subject may well assist the authorities in their efforts to establish contact with him or her. He thought that in the instant case the provision of two or three, perhaps no more than five cigarettes at the earliest opportunity would be seen as positive behaviour on the part of the gardaı´ and from then on the provision of further cigarettes should be conditional on the receipt of something in return from the subject. Thus the second supply of cigarettes would only be given to the subject if, for example, he threw some ammunition out the window at the request of the negotiator. The cigarettes would then be used as reinforcers. He said that each further supply of cigarettes would require a repeat of the admitted good behaviour on the part of the subject. The effect of delivering some of the cigarettes to him would have the dual benefit of meeting a part of his request and, also, giving an opportunity for rapport building and contact between the police and him.
In the course of the Tribunal’s request to Dr. Sheehan, he was asked the following question:
‘‘To that end, and bearing in mind his antagonism towards the police, was it desirable to meet promptly as a gesture of good will, any reasonable request which he might make, such as the provision of cigarettes and the production of a solicitor?’’
Dr. Sheehan replied:
‘‘In my opinion, it was certainly desirable to quickly meet Mr. Carthy’s request for cigarettes and a solicitor. The absence of cigarettes was likely to aggravate his nicotine withdrawal and further increase his agitation, reducing the likelihood of him co-operating with the negotiator. The request for a solicitor was an opportunity to provide him with a person of his choosing who may have been able to act as intermediary between him and the gardai’’.
Dr. Kennedy thought that a meaningful response to John Carthy’s request for a solicitor or cigarettes would have been helpful in establishing some element of rapport between him and the negotiator. He said that the request for cigarettes should have been met if the cigarettes could have been safely delivered.
The delivery of cigarettes — the experts’ views
Dr. McKenzie expressed the view that it would have been possible for the delivery of cigarettes to be negotiated in some way. He said that there was a need for the negotiator to take the lead and be prescriptive. He said that the cigarettes should be at the scene and shown to the subject who should then be told, in descriptive terms, how the delivery is going to be achieved while meeting the needs of police safety. He thought that Sergeant Jackson was not prescriptive enough in telling John Carthy how the cigarettes were going to be delivered. He thought that he should have been told how the cigarettes were to be delivered rather than the issue being left for negotiation, thus leaving it in the hands of John Carthy.
Mr. Burdis thought that Sergeant Jackson utilised ploys that were more appropriate to hostage negotiation particularly in relation to the cigarettes delivery question. Mr. Burdis thought that the issue of ‘‘encroachment onto territory’’ is very much a part of the hostage situation where there is a danger of a hostage taker causing injury or carrying out retaliation.
Dr. Sheehan said that from a safety point of view it would be appropriate for the negotiator to be prescriptive in his approach to the delivery of cigarettes.
Dr. Sheehan was asked whether such a delivery would have the potential to increase John Carthy’s grandiosity. He said that he thought that this was already present and that in granting his request by delivery of the cigarettes this was likely to help the rapport between himself and the negotiator.
Dr. McKenzie acknowledged that in the interest of safety and to deal with the problem of John Carthy’s failure to agree a method of delivery, covert delivery of the cigarettes would have been an option. However, he said that best practice would suggest that this was an unwise strategy. Dr. McKenzie illustrated this by setting out the psychological thought on the concept of interpersonal space, which he described as being broken down into three sub-levels:
i. Intimate space.
ii. Personal territory; which includes home territory with a special sub-set of this being a person’s house which has specific societal rules about how it is to be approached, which involve well-established traditions about knocking on doors, ringing doorbells, lines of approach and marked pathways, and entry to appropriate, identified access points. Dr. McKenzie said that failure to comply with these rules and traditions may well be considered by people inside the property as an unjustifiable breach of their privacy and personal/home territory. As with other invasions of personal space, the likely outcome is at very least agitation, and sometimes even overt aggression.
Defensible space which extends to areas that the occupier properly can see from the premises and according to the psychological literature that area which they psychologically need to ‘‘defend’’ from illegitimate incursion.
Dr. McKenzie thought that the question of a covert delivery of cigarettes was properly treated with circumspection by the negotiation team. He said that there was some evidence to suggest that those suffering from various kinds of mental illness are much more conscious of an invasion of aspects of personal space than others and it seemed to him very likely that a demonstration that the Garda were capable of invasion of personal space (that is John Carthy’s home territory) might well have provoked an unwanted reaction. He thought that it was likely in the circumstances that any covert delivery would have provoked, at the very least, annoyance on the part of John Carthy and it would have certainly have created difficulties in the cause of trying to build rapport. He thought that it was likely that John would have viewed any such delivery as a breach of trust.
He thought that if the cigarettes had been delivered while John Carthy’s attention was diverted, or while he was sleeping that would not have helped the situation. He said that for him to find cigarettes suddenly and inexplicably appearing on his windowsill after they had been surreptitiously delivered would have exacerbated the incident.
Dr. Sheehan said that in his view what was at issue was not a covert delivery of cigarettes but rather that John Carthy had asked on two occasions for cigarettes. Therefore the delivery would in fact be a response to an expressed request. He thought that a covert delivery of cigarettes to someone who had not requested them would be an invasion of personal space but here the issue was that John Carthy had requested the cigarettes. Though possible that the covert delivery of cigarettes, even though they had been asked for, would be regarded as an invasion of personal space, he felt that the likelihood was that he would not see it like that. He thought that it was clearly desirable that any request for cigarettes be made by an overt delivery; however, he thought that it was reasonable for them to be delivered covertly because this met the request. In considering whether a covert delivery would be seen by John Carthy as an invasion of personal space, he said that his view was based upon the presence of severe mental illness.
He agreed that the concept of defensible space as described by Dr. McKenzie was appropriate in the circumstances. He thought that the introduction of cigarettes in a covert fashion could rebound badly, because of John Carthy’s paranoia and the invasion of his personal space. Dr. Kennedy thought that the distinction between responding to a request by covert delivery, and delivering something that was not requested was one that was less significant because of his psychotic state. When asked to comment on Dr. Sheehan’s view that as John Carthy had asked for the cigarettes a delivery in those circumstances was not a unilateral act by the police, he responded by saying that such a situation presented a risky judgement call because the subject is aroused, manic, irritable, and very easily provoked. In the circumstances the emphasis must be on the safety of the police and while there may be some virtue in delivering the cigarettes, there was a risk that even then the subject might view it as a provocative act.
Professor Fahy said that in circumstances where a person is paranoid and he becomes aware that his space is being infringed, this can cause him a great deal of insecurity. He thought that while a delivery that had been asked for was much less likely to provoke a suspicious response, any covert infringement of a mentally ill person’s space carries risk. He thought that the risk posed by a covert delivery would be reduced to some extent, if that delivery was in response to a request. He said that one could not rely on John Carthy to have a rational response to an issue such as covert delivery of cigarettes. He also said that one could not assume that he would
be grateful for a delivery of cigarettes, as it was impossible to know how he was going to react because in the first place he had a mental illness and in the second he was at times a ‘‘querulous’’ person. He said that people who are mentally ill and in an agitated state often misinterpret signals and often react in a hostile and suspicious manner to helpful overtures, and therefore in dealing with an acutely disturbed patient one should put safety first.
The evidence of Detective Sergeant Jackson
Sergeant Jackson telephoned John Carthy’s mobile phone at 11:38 p.m. on 1 9th April. He greeted the subject and told him who was calling, whereupon John Carthy said ‘‘where is my solicitor’’, followed by, ‘‘get the fuck out of here’’. Sergeant Jackson said that John Carthy’s tone was very quick and barely coherent and that he felt it was possibly a challenging or taunting tone. John Carthy then hung up the telephone.
Sergeant Jackson saw this as a significant development; it was an exchange that introduced something new into the equation which he was anxious to develop. While viewing it as ‘‘a breakthrough of sorts,’’ Sergeant Jackson thought that it was something that he had to work on with the subject. He attempted to telephone him once more but the telephone was not answered. Sergeant Jackson called out to him over the loudhailer and asked him who his solicitor was and where he or she could be contacted. The reply was: ‘‘I want the best, the best, the best’’. Sergeant Jackson felt that this was again said in a barely coherent but challenging way. He told the Tribunal that he viewed this exchange as something to build on and develop. He attempted once more to find out details in relation to what solicitor John Carthy wanted.
The negotiator suggested that he put down the gun and that the solicitor could meet him outside if that is what he wanted. John Carthy was reported to have banged the gun on the table and to have said ‘‘excitedly’’ that he wanted the solicitor to come into the house. Sergeant Jackson told him that it would be a problem for a solicitor to go into the house and again repeated the suggestion that he put down the gun and meet a solicitor outside. He explained to the Tribunal that he was attempting, at this stage, to put options before John Carthy; the suggestion to put down the gun and come and meet a solicitor outside was presented as an option for him to consider and not as a demand. Sergeant Jackson was adamant that he was not delivering some sort of ‘‘mantra’’ in relation to putting down the gun. He explained his hope that if John Carthy considered what was being said to him, he may realise that the gun was causing a problem and that his behaviour was not in line with what he should be doing. However, he replied by saying ‘‘no way, don’t bother’’.
Sergeant Jackson attempted to reassure the subject by telling him that they were not there to hurt him and that if he came out no one would hurt him. He then specifically said to John Carthy that he believed he may not trust the Garda and offered to get a solicitor, a friend, a priest or anyone he wanted to meet him outside. He replied, ‘‘I am not coming out, no way’’. Sergeant Jackson explained that he was using the
request for a solicitor to build on the possibility of finding any intermediary that was acceptable to John Carthy.
Sergeant Jackson was asked what level of importance he attached to ascertaining if John Carthy did in fact have a solicitor and, if so, making initial inquiries from that solicitor and/or bringing him or her to the scene. The negotiator reiterated that the mention of a solicitor was a ‘‘breakthrough’’, but that some development or further action was required on behalf of the Garda Sı´ocha´na in relation to it. He described his response as a ‘‘two-pronged approach’’. First, he continued his attempts to communicate with John Carthy about the identity of the solicitor and, secondly, he instructed Garda Sullivan to relay the request to the scene commander, i.e., to be explored by him.
Garda Sullivan returned some time later and informed Sergeant Jackson that, as far as the scene commander was aware, John Carthy did not have a solicitor but that he wished the matter to be explored further with him. Sergeant Jackson told the subject that they really wanted to get him his solicitor and tried once more to initiate dialogue in relation to the matter of who his solicitor was and how he or she may be contacted. He stated that it was important to get whoever John Carthy had in mind at that stage. He made no reply but Sergeant Jackson described him as moving about the room and coming to the window and looking out. He said that he was mumbling to himself and he felt that he was not taking cognisance of what was being said.
The negotiator was asked if he considered that a solicitor might have been engaged in some manner concerning the building of the new Carthy residence. Sergeant Jackson stated that he was aware of the new house but that such a thought did not occur to him. He told the Tribunal that it was obvious to him that John Carthy had, or appeared to have, someone particular in mind, and that his focus was on trying to ascertain precisely who that person was. However he agreed that his demand for ‘‘the best, the best, the best’’, might suggest that he did not have a particular solicitor in mind; a fact that occurred to both himself and the scene commander at the time. Sergeant Jackson thought that what John Carthy was saying was somewhat ‘‘incoherent and to some degree ... not concise or rational’’, and that the request needed to be developed particularly in light of the fact that he wanted the solicitor to come into the house.
Shortly after 3:00 a.m. on the morning of 20th April, Sergeant Jackson spoke with Superintendent Byrne, then acting scene commander, in relation to the issue of the solicitor. It was agreed with Superintendent Byrne that Sergeant Jackson should try raising the issue again with John Carthy in an attempt to move the negotiating process forward. The negotiator asked John Carthy once more what solicitor he wanted and reiterated that the Garda were willing to get anyone he trusted to come to the scene. There was no reply. Sergeant Jackson then informed him that they were willing to get any solicitor for him and bring him to the negotiating post but that they couldn’t allow the solicitor to go into the house. He asked John Carthy if he was agreeable to this. Again there was no reply. Sergeant Jackson stated that he was
trying to ‘‘move John from that position of wanting the solicitor in the house if at all possible to try and progress [the negotiations]’’.
When asked specifically if they, at this stage, considered bringing any solicitor to the scene, such as a well-known local solicitor, Sergeant Jackson explained to the Tribunal that, as with bringing any intermediary to the scene, some degree of agreement was required from John Carthy: ‘‘It was predicated on John saying ‘this is okay, I will agree to that and I will talk to him’... if John said ‘okay, any solicitor will do, bring him to the negotiating point and let him ring me’, that is what it was predicated on, not necessarily John expressing exactly who and what he wanted’’. He felt that in the absence of developing it further with John Carthy some ‘‘further difficulty’’ might be caused by bringing any solicitor to the negotiating post whereupon the subject may demand that he be allowed into the house. ‘‘I did try to make it clear to Mr. Carthy,’’ he told the Tribunal, ‘‘that we were willing at any stage to facilitate, within the boundaries of safety, the attendance of any solicitor at the scene and unfortunately there was no reply to that’’.
At approximately 9:00 a.m. on the morning of 20th April Sergeant Jackson had a meeting with scene commanders, Superintendents Shelly and Byrne. Superintendent Shelly instructed him to re-explore the issue of the solicitor, along with the issue of the cigarettes.
Attempts to engage John Carthy in dialogue about the solicitor again took place at approximately 12:00 p.m. Sergeant Jackson told the Tribunal that he dealt with the topic in the same manner as before. John Carthy’s response is recorded as ‘‘fuck off, don’t bother’’. (That response would have coincided approximately with the subject’s phone call to Kevin Ireland in which he asked him to contact a particular solicitor on his behalf and to request him to come to the scene. He also indicated to his friend that he might end the siege if he had the benefit of a solicitor to advise him.)
Sometime after 1:00 p.m. on 20th April, Sergeant Jackson received information in relation to the telephone call that John Carthy had with Kevin Ireland. In light of the fact that the issue of a solicitor had arisen during the course of that conversation, Sergeant Jackson sought once more to initiate dialogue around this area. Having regard to the nature of the phone call as relayed to him, he felt that John Carthy might at times have been thinking rationally; something he hoped to capitalise on. Sergeant Jackson again informed him that they would bring a solicitor to the negotiating post if he could identify a solicitor for them. John Carthy replied that he wanted a ‘‘Republican’’ solicitor. Sergeant Jackson informed him that they would get one for him and requested the name and number of such a solicitor. Further words of reassurance were offered in relation to the fact that everything would be okay when he came out of the house, whereupon John Carthy retorted, ‘‘No fucking way, I want him in here’’. Sergeant Jackson reported that the subject then smiled, in a taunting way. Sergeant Jackson again suggested to the subject that he come out of the house to meet the solicitor and further explained his concern in relation to allowing a solicitor into the house when he had a gun. John Carthy replied, ‘‘don’t bother, don’t bother’’.
Sergeant Jackson was questioned, having regard to the fact that any attempts to engage John Carthy in relation to a solicitor had failed, whether they considered at this stage bringing any solicitor to the negotiation point to see if he would in fact engage with one. He reiterated his previous evidence in relation to requiring a degree of agreement from John Carthy before any intermediary could be brought to the negotiating post and further that they needed to move him away from the position of wanting the solicitor in the house; ‘‘as with all intermediaries, and a solicitor is similarly in that position, we needed to try and develop with John that this course of action we were going to take would achieve something. We never got to that position with Mr. Carthy in relation to the solicitor issue’’.
Sergeant Jackson accepted that the request for a solicitor was an important development in that it was a request which emanated from John Carthy himself; one of the very small number that did.
At approximately 3:00 p.m. on 20th April, Sergeant Jackson felt that it may be beneficial for Garda Sullivan to attempt negotiations with Mr. Carthy. Shortly before he commenced negotiating Superintendent Shelly informed Garda Sullivan that the solicitor that John Carthy was requesting may be called ‘‘John or Mick Finucane’’. Garda Sullivan relayed this information to Sergeant Jackson at the negotiation post. During the course of his attempts at negotiation with John Carthy, Garda Sullivan introduced the issue of the request for a solicitor. John Carthy mentioned the name ‘‘Finucane’’ and asked Garda Sullivan why the police did not get him. Garda Sullivan told the Tribunal that he tried to push John Carthy further on this point in an attempt to get clarification as to who the solicitor was and how he may be contacted. The witness explained that he thought John Carthy was listening to him and that it was a good opportunity to try and engage him in dialogue. He was also anxious to find out who this person called ‘‘Finucane‘‘ may be. However, the subject was very ‘‘dismissive’’ of such attempts at dialogue responding with, ‘‘fuck off out of here’’. John Carthy then became more aggressive saying: ‘‘Free State bastards... shoot me, shoot me’’.
The evidence of Superintendent Shelly
Superintendent Shelly identified three main difficulties in relation to John Carthy’s request for a solicitor, which the Garda attempted to resolve through the medium of negotiation. The three areas that needed to be resolved were:
i The identity of the solicitor;
i Agreement on the method of communication with a solicitor; and
i The fact that he had stated that he wanted the solicitor to enter the house. ‘‘That just couldn’t happen on safety grounds,’’ he told the Tribunal, ‘‘I, as scene commander, would never agree to that. I would never agree to allow anybody else into that house because it just wasn’t safe to do so’’.
Superintendent Shelly was further of the view that an exploration of these issues may have helped to build up some degree of trust and communication between John
Carthy and the negotiator and therefore the issue of the solicitor involved more than the mere provision of a solicitor at the scene.
Superintendent Byrne, in considering the request for a solicitor, thought that it would be beneficial if John Carthy was willing to talk to anybody, irrespective of the profession or employment of that person. ‘‘That was our whole purpose’’, he told the Tribunal, ‘‘to try and get John to talk to somebody, be it the negotiator or somebody else, so that we could resolve this issue of him in there with the live firearm’’. He agreed that in particular a solicitor may often be seen as a bulwark between the citizen and the Garda and is a person who can receive information in confidence.
Sometime between 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. on the morning of 20th April, Superintendent Byrne himself thought about the possibility of bringing a local solicitor to the scene but decided ‘‘rightly or wrongly’’ not to.
Chief Superintendent Tansey
Chief Superintendent Tansey told the Tribunal that he was informed shortly before 1:00 a.m. on 20th April that John Carthy was looking for a solicitor. He believed that Sergeant Jackson was trying to establish from the subject the name of the solicitor that he required. Chief Superintendent Tansey believed that the plan in relation to the solicitor was ‘‘straightforward’’; if John Carthy named a solicitor then that solicitor would have been brought to the scene. However, if they had thought that any solicitor would have done, Chief Superintendent Tansey stated that they would have ensured the attendance of any solicitor at the scene, but that he, and others at the scene, were of the opinion that the solicitor who was most likely to assist in the negotiation was a solicitor named by John Carthy himself. When the name ‘‘Finucane’’ became known to the Garda as the possible solicitor that John Carthy was referring to, Chief Superintendent Tansey believed that all possible attempts were made to identify him further. The obvious step of contacting the Law Society was not adverted to by anyone. He also stated that no decision had been made, the effect of which would be to deny him access to a solicitor.
Assistant Commissioner Hickey
Assistant Commissioner Hickey informed the Tribunal that he first became aware of John Carthy’s request for a solicitor when he attended the scene on 20th April. He was made aware that ongoing efforts were made throughout the negotiation process to find out what solicitor John Carthy in fact wanted. Assistant Commissioner Hickey told the Tribunal that he could not at that stage see any benefit in having a solicitor not known to John Carthy in attendance at the scene. He was aware of Inspector Maguire’s evidence in relation to his conversation with Thomas Walsh as to whether or not John Carthy had a solicitor. Interestingly Assistant Commissioner Hickey stated that in his mind the focus of the issue of the solicitor changed when John Carthy requested the presence of a solicitor in his house and when the name ‘‘Finucane’’ was mentioned. ‘‘I thought he was hallucinating and referring to the late well-known Pat Finucane. I still think it is significant ’’, he told the Tribunal, ‘‘that Mr. Michael
Finucane never had any dealings with John Carthy and in fact was not a solicitor at the time’’. Assistant Commissioner Hickey was then aware that the negotiating effort was proving difficult and that little rapport had been established.
Experts’ views and analyses
It is important to understand that both Mr. Lanceley and Dr. McKenzie viewed the issue of whether a solicitor should have been brought to the scene to negotiate with John Carthy as a third party intermediary issue. Therefore, their comments in relation to TPIs are relevant here, especially in relation to the dangers or downsides they identified in using TPIs as part of a negotiating strategy.
It is pertinent to comment that none of the experts referred to Mr. Carthy’s phone call to Kevin Ireland in which he intimated that his purpose for seeking a solicitor at the scene was in connection with possible negotiation of an end to the impasse. He was also described by his friend as being ‘‘calm’’ and clear in what he was saying. That was about five hours before his death.
Mr. Lanceley was adamant that in the United States a solicitor would never have been allowed to enter the house to speak with a subject. In relation to whether or not a solicitor would have been allowed to attempt dialogue with the subject, Mr. Lanceley felt that this would be unlikely but that it would depend entirely on the circumstances of the particular situation. Mr. Lanceley agreed with the approach adopted by Sergeant Jackson in that he too would have emphasised that John Carthy could speak to a solicitor if he came out of the house without the gun; he would also have reassured him in that regard. Mr. Lanceley told the Tribunal that he would have given consideration to bringing a solicitor to the scene as a source of support and confidence to John Carthy and may have even considered tape recording a message from the solicitor to him; thereby retaining Garda control over what was being said. He accepted that the presence of a solicitor at the scene might have helped the situation.
Mr. Lanceley agreed with Mr. Burdis’s assessment that John Carthy’s requests for a solicitor were centred on helping him out of the predicament of the moment rather than some deep-seated personal problem. Mr. Lanceley stated that one of the questions he would have explored with John Carthy is why he wanted to see a solicitor. Mr. Lanceley further believed that if he really wanted a solicitor present he could have phoned one himself, rather than relying on the Garda, whom he did not appear to trust, to get one for him; the subject had access to a phone and used it to contact others during the siege. (In fact Mr. Carthy had ascertained shortly before the event that his own solicitor, Mr. Connellan was out of the country at that time on vacation.)
Dr. McKenzie believed that a solicitor should have been brought to the scene, despite the fact that no particular solicitor had been adequately identified by John Carthy. The arrival of a solicitor could then have been announced to him. He felt that the failure to bring a solicitor to the scene was likely to have been excessively frustrating for the subject and might, when coupled with the issue of the cigarettes, have lead to some degree of distrust, in that his requests were not being responded to. However he emphasised that the purpose of the presence of a solicitor would not have been to speak directly with John Carthy but to act as a resource for the police, for example in the provision of information in relation to the demolition of the Carthy old home or any other such matters. All would however be channelled through the negotiator. The solicitor should, under no circumstances, be permitted to enter the house.
Dr. McKenzie highlighted a further role in that the solicitor could provide a link to other lawyers that may be required; this is similar to the peer-to-peer communication envisaged with mental health professionals at a scene.
Dr. McKenzie was asked if he agreed that it would have been an option for John Carthy to simply pick up the telephone and call a solicitor if he in fact really wanted one present at the scene. While agreeing that that may have been a possibility, he viewed the requests for an unidentified solicitor as ‘‘part and parcel of an absence of desire adequately to negotiate the exit with police officers. It does not mean’’, he explained, ‘‘that there is not an intentional request for a solicitor being made, but it does mean, that there is every possibility that there is a kind of — I can only use the word ‘game’, that is being played, where requests are made, which are not actually important in any proper sense of the word, because it is already formulated in Carthy’s mind that there is going to be an end to this’’. (This is at variance with Mr. Carthy’s explanation to his friend, Kevin Ireland, for wanting the benefit of a solicitor at the scene, i.e., in the context of negotiating an end to the impasse.)
Mr. Burdis viewed the issue of the provision of a solicitor at the scene in a slightly different light from Mr. Lanceley and Dr. McKenzie. Mr. Burdis, while sharing the view in relation to the downsides of TPIs, saw professional persons such as doctors and solicitors as fitting into a different category. He explained that although they should never end up in a position where they are undertaking the police function of negotiating, they may be used to reassure a subject in a supportive way. Mr. Burdis told the Tribunal that he would personally have had little difficulty in providing a solicitor to be available to speak to John Carthy and all the more so in circumstances where there was a known distrust of the Garda and a reliance (that should have been known from an early stage had files and records been properly accessed) by John Carthy on professional supports to aid his cause. Mr. Burdis agreed with the other experts that no solicitor could have been allowed enter the house unless it could be determined that it was safe so to do. Mr. Burdis was of the view that had a solicitor been brought to the scene it would have allowed Sergeant Jackson to open up a new
avenue of negotiation which may have been fruitful; it would have been identified as a positive police action.
Dr. Sheehan identified such utterances as ‘‘the best, the best, the best’’ and the request for a ‘‘Republican’’ solicitor as being a typical display of ‘‘grandiosity’’. Grandiosity, he explained, is a symptom of mania; it involves abnormal beliefs or a sense of enhanced self-esteem. Therefore what John Carthy wanted was something out of the ordinary, something that he considered as special. Dr. Sheehan initially expressed a view that John Carthy may have responded to a solicitor had one been introduced as an intermediary, especially a solicitor who had acted for him before with a successful outcome and had a degree of credibility in John Carthy’s mind separate from the Garda; a body he was paranoid about. However, he ultimately concluded, that, due to the severity of his mental state, he did not think a solicitor would have succeeded in de-escalating the stand-off to a safe level leading to a peaceful outcome. Agreeing that it might have been useful to attempt to get John Carthy to respond to a solicitor, Dr. Sheehan reiterated his view that ‘‘the way he interacted with so many of the other people there between not responding, between letting off a shot, that is why my conclusion there was, thatI think at the end of the day, I don’t think he was actually going to cooperate or collaborate with anybody’’. Dr. Sheehan believed that the failure however to meet such requests as the solicitor and the cigarettes was likely to increase John Carthy’s antagonism towards the Garda and the negotiator and would not have helped establish or promote a sense of rapport with the negotiator.
Dr. Kennedy told the Tribunal that a request for a solicitor from a patient in a clinical setting would be responded to in a similar manner to the approach adopted by Sergeant Jackson at Abbeylara. He explained that the clinician would first try and address what solicitor or what type of solicitor was wanted. He or she may then explore how the patient would wish to communicate with the solicitor. However, he stressed, if dialogue is not built up between the clinician and the patient it would be difficult to progress such a request further. In the absence of any such dialogue he accepted that it would not be unhelpful to try and bring any solicitor to the scene, even if not the solicitor envisaged by the patient, but he remained of the belief that ‘‘until there is some kind of dialogue, it is not going to be as helpful as it could be’’. Dr. Kennedy, while agreeing with the Chairman that it may have been reasonable to bring a solicitor to the scene and allow him to attempt dialogue with John Carthy, doubted that it would have led to his safe exit from the house and a peaceful resolution to the siege. However, Dr. Kennedy did accept that a meaningful response on the part of the Garda to the request for cigarettes and a solicitor would have assisted in establishing or endeavouring to establish some element of rapport as between the negotiator and the subject. Dr. Kennedy agreed with Dr. Sheehan that the manner in which a solicitor was requested was evidence of grandiosity. He further referred to the fact that John Carthy had told Kevin Ireland some months previously that a solicitor by the name of Finucane had assisted him in getting his
gun back from the Garda. Dr. Kennedy was of the view that John Carthy believed that he had been and could be assisted by a solicitor of renown and that such belief was delusional in that Mr. Finucane had never met him, let alone offered him any legal assistance.
16. An armed negotiator
Sergeant Jackson, being a detective, was armed.
An issue which arose in the course of the evidence arising from the expert reports, was the question of the propriety of an armed negotiator.
Detective Sergeant Jackson
Sergeant Jackson told the Tribunal that he did not have ‘‘what I would call a tactical role, i.e., I did not form part of the flexible cordon that was to encompass John if, indeed, he did emerge’’. He said that at the outset of his involvement on his arrival at Abbeylara he had discussed his role and function with Garda Sullivan in the event of an uncontrolled exit by John Carthy. He said that he told Sergeant Russell that he was anxious that he would stay negotiating with John Carthy as long and as far as possible, having due regard to his safety and that of Garda Sullivan, and said:
‘‘I was anxious that if there was a possibility, in an uncontrolled exit, that my intervention vis a` vis negotiation may convince John to put down the weapon, I was anxious that that should be maximised. It was agreed between myself and Detective Sergeant Russell and Superintendent Shelly, that I should try and remain negotiating with John as long as possible in the event of an uncontrolled exit’’.
Mr. Bailey told the Tribunal that in the United Kingdom negotiators are not drawn from tactical officers and with the exception of members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, they are never armed. He thought that in countries where there is an unarmed policing tradition it is very undesirable to have armed negotiators. Mr. Bailey thought that there was an argument that an armed negotiator might have confidence in his ability to protect himself which would make him more likely to take a risk that an unarmed negotiator would not take. Mr. Bailey thought that because of his view that it was not desirable that negotiations should be carried out from a position that is in the subject’s line of fire, there was no need for negotiators to be armed for their own protection. He said that while he thought it would be unfair to be too critical of Sergeant Jackson, he believed that it is not in the interest of negotiators or the likely success of future operations for the negotiator to be involved in shooting the subject of a siege. He thought that if John Carthy had been wounded
and remained on the road it would be extremely difficult for Sergeant Jackson to recommence any negotiations with him if he had been involved in the shooting. He was of the view that it would be more difficult for negotiators in the future to gain the trust and confidence of the subject of a siege, if that subject is concerned that they might be shot by the negotiator. He thought that arming the negotiator would lose one of the advantages that an unarmed negotiator has, i.e., that he or she is in a position to say, in reply to a statement from the subject of the incident that ‘‘you are here to shoot me’’ — ‘‘I do not have a gun, I cannot shoot anyone’’.
Mr. Lanceley said that in the early 1970s in the United States, the thinking was that negotiators should go ‘‘face to face’’ with the subject unarmed. He said that experience showed police forces that in doing so they were putting their negotiators in very grave danger. He went on to say that the arming of the negotiator is not a topic for discussion in the United States in that there is public knowledge that all police officers are armed while on duty.
SECTION D: — Previous Operational Experience — Bawnboy Introduction
The scene commanders at Abbeylara had no prior experience of commanding an armed siege type situation or any incident involving an emotionally disturbed or mentally ill person who was in possession of and using a firearm.
The question therefore arises whether the Garda Sı´ocha´na, as an organisation, had any such experience. Documentation discovered by the Commissioner suggests that they had some prior experience. However, it should be noted that no two incidents are the same. Perhaps, the most analogous incident to the subject matter of this Inquiry was one at Bawnboy, Co. Cavan in January, 1997. The evidence in relation to it reveals that significant differences and circumstances existed, particularly in relation to the negotiation process. The principal difference was that, unlike Abbeylara, the subject of the incident at Bawnboy had no mental illness, was willing from an early stage to engage in telephone communication with the negotiator, and in fact, on occasions initiated contact. Evidence as to what occurred at Bawnboy was given to the Tribunal by district officer, Superintendent P.J. Browne, who was the scene commander for the duration of the incident.
On 15th January, 1997 between 12:15 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. the County Registrar for Cavan, his assistants and members of the Garda Sı´ocha´na, (whose duty it was to prevent a breach of the peace) arrived at a house at Bellaleenan, Co. Cavan, which was located in a rural setting, approximately two miles from the village of Bawnboy, for the purposes of executing a Court Order for the eviction of the occupier, a Mr. Jan Isenborger and his mother. Following a short conversation outside the house
between the County Registrar and Mr. Isenborger, he re-entered the house and re-emerged with a rifle type firearm and began firing shots in the direction of the County Registrar, his assistants and the gardaı´. A number of persons were injured. A stand-off subsequently ensued which lasted approximately 24 hours and involved local gardaı´ and members of the ERU. It appeared at an early stage during the course of the siege that Mr. Isenborger’s actions were motivated by his concern for his terminally ill mother who resided with him in the house, and whose death occurred during the course of the incident. Mr. Isenborger was not mentally ill.
2. The initial Garda response
Inspector Tadhg Foley and a number of other gardaı´ went to the scene. In the early stages of the incident, the occupier of a neighbouring house contacted Mr. Isenborger by telephone and requested, and received, permission for an ambulance to go to the scene. During the course of this contact Inspector Foley was in the neighbouring house. He spoke by telephone to Mr. Isenborger. This facilitated the commencement of negotiations. Inspector Foley had not received any specific training as a negotiator.
On his arrival at the scene shortly afterwards, Superintendent Browne became aware that Inspector Foley had already commenced negotiations, and he took the view that he should continue. A trained negotiator, a detective superintendent stationed at Monaghan garda station, was called to the scene. He was also of the opinion that Inspector Foley should continue with negotiation attempts, assisted by a trained negotiator. Subsequently negotiators arrived from the Special Detective Unit. In the words of Superintendent Browne they were ‘‘there to help formulate questions and record answers to the various questions that were being put to... [the subject] . . . questions that he was posing back to the negotiators and the responses coming from both sides’’. The services of the ERU were requested and obtained.
The local house from which the negotiations were conducted was evacuated and made available to the gardaı´. A command post and negotiation cell was established at that location, which was about five hundred yards away from the subject’s house and in an elevated position above it.
The scene commander, Superintendent Browne, said in evidence that he spent most of his time in the room of the house that served as the negotiation cell, listening to the negotiations.
Inner and outer cordons were established. The inner cordon was around the subject’s house for the purpose of containment. The outer cordon was established at a perimeter area to prevent unauthorised entry. The outer cordon consisted of uniformed gardaı´ and detectives. In the early stages armed local detectives formed the inner cordon with the senior detective taking charge. A local sergeant took charge of the outer cordon. All roads with access to the scene were sealed off. The
area between both cordons became the operational area. The neighbouring house in which the command post and the negotiating cell were located was situated between the inner and outer cordon.
Following the arrival of the ERU, the local officers were withdrawn from the inner cordon and the ERU took charge of it. No unauthorised personnel were allowed between the outer and inner cordons. Superintendent Browne decided who was to be permitted to enter through the outer cordon.
4. Tactical commander
On the arrival of the ERU, a detective inspector attached to that unit assumed the duty of tactical commander at the request of Superintendent Browne, the scene commander.
5. Inner cordon numbers
There were two sergeants and eight detective gardaı´ from the ERU manning the inner cordon. While the detective inspector from the ERU had command of this unit, it was subject to overall command by the scene commander. Eleven members of the ERU were present, including the detective inspector who was in charge. Superintendent Browne stated that the decision on the number of ERU personnel brought to the scene was one within the remit of the ERU itself. During daylight, members of the inner cordon were relieved for rest periods, which took place in the house that had been established as the command post.
6. Communication with the subject
The only means of contact with Mr. Isenborger was by means of a landline from his neighbour’s house. Communication was two-way, not only was the subject contacted by telephone, but he also made telephone calls to the negotiators. Superintendent Browne said that the subject ‘‘engaged from the very beginning’’. It was thought by garda officers present that Mr. Isenborger did have contact with someone outside the area of the scene during the course of the negotiations. The subject showed no animosity towards the local gardaı´ and indicated that he would not shoot any uniformed member but that he was afraid of plain clothes’ officers coming into his house and trying to overpower him.
7. Demands and requests
Mr. Isenborger demanded that plain clothes members be kept away from his house. He also demanded that the media be taken out of sight of his house and this was complied with. It should be noted that any contact with the media was dealt with by the scene commander, Superintendent Browne.
Through the regular contact that took place between the garda negotiator and the subject, deliveries were arranged to the subject’s house. These consisted of deliveries
of cigarettes and Coca-Cola, and the deliveries were orchestrated by agreement between the negotiator and Mr. Isenborger. On two occasions Mr. Isenborger handed over firearms to the gardaı´ and on one of these he also handed over a quantity of ammunition. He was a collector of firearms and had a number of guns in his house together with ammunition. Delivery plans were not committed to writing.
In connection with the general question of a delivery, Superintendent Browne said in evidence that he would not take a decision to put an officer in danger to make a delivery which had not been negotiated. He said that a delivery of any item would not have taken place without agreement ‘‘because without engagement and without agreement, I was not going to send my people in to an area where they could maybe have lost their lives, and finally that was going to be my decision.’’
9. Equipment brought to the scene
Video equipment and monitors were available locally from Monaghan garda station, and were requested and brought to the scene. The sergeant in charge of communications at Monaghan travelled to Bawnboy and during the hours of darkness he placed a video camera overlooking the operational area and a television monitor at the command post. A total of nine video tapes were produced during the incident. A ‘‘walkie-talkie’’ system was also used. In addition the ERU brought specialist equipment such as night vision glasses and lighting to the scene.
A scene commander’s log and a negotiator’s log, which were both extensive, were maintained at the scene. Mr. Burdis calculated that there were 45 pages of rough notes, which he described as ‘‘evidential’’, and 49 pages of a formal negotiator’s log. The negotiator’s assistant checked all logs, which were kept by the negotiator himself or by the scene commander. Superintendent Browne said that he personally did not take notes at the scene but there was another officer delegated to take notes for him. He said that this responsibility was given to a number of officers who relieved each other at various times. The negotiators who came from the ERU brought pre-prepared, blank logs with them. These negotiators assisted the front-line negotiators and made notes on flip charts.
11. Command structure
The logs produced to the Tribunal referred on at least one occasion to ‘‘Gold 1 — Chief Superintendent Rooney’’, the local divisional officer; ‘‘Silver 2 — Detective Superintendent Somers’’, the negotiator who had come from Monaghan garda station, and ‘‘Silver 1 — Superintendent Browne’’, the scene commander. The expression ‘‘zulu 1’’ was given to other officers. Superintendent Browne when questioned as to whether these notes were referable to a tiered command system, such as that of ‘‘gold, silver, bronze’’ as operated in the United Kingdom, said that this was not the case, but that they referred to call signs for the relevant officers.
12. Third party intermediaries
At the request of the Garda, Mr. Isenborger’s neighbour, whose house served as the command post, made initial contact with him and obtained his agreement to the attendance of an ambulance at the scene to care for the injured. She knew Mr. Isenborger ‘‘exceptionally well’’. Another man who knew him and had befriended him since his arrival in the area also spoke to him on the telephone, after it had been established by the negotiators that Mr. Isenborger wished to speak to him. This conversation was conducted from the house in which the command post was located.
13. The psychologist
A psychologist was not brought to the scene. The local gardaı´ knew Mr. Isenborger. He had no history of mental or psychological difficulty, although he was greatly distressed about his dying mother’s medical condition.
14. Exit plan
A plan was prepared to deal with the issue of a controlled or uncontrolled exit. This was discussed between the scene commander and the officer in charge of the ERU. It was not committed to writing, the reason for this being, according to Superintendent Browne that there were ‘‘a huge amount of imponderables’’.
Superintendent Browne said that ‘‘all units and patrols were aware of the situation arising in the event of an uncontrolled exit. If such an exit took place it was to be prevented. Patrols circled the perimeter roads continuously and radio communication was available, and any unit could be told to go to any particular location.’’ Superintendent Browne did not give any specific instruction in relation to a flexible plan, he said ‘‘because every plan has to be flexible because of the situation that could evolve at any time’’. Contact with the inner cordon was through a radio system dedicated to the use of the ERU, a radio set being located in the negotiator’s room. Superintendent Browne as scene commander had use of that. An ambulance and a fire tender were brought to the scene and located at the outer cordon. The fire tender was brought to the scene because Mr. Isenborger was observed setting a fire in his back garden.
15. The decision to fire
Superintendent Browne said that in giving instructions to the inner cordon as to how to deal with Mr. Isenborger if he came out of the house, armed and non-compliant, he told them that the subject was not to be allowed to leave the area of operations. He said that he instructed the tactical commander that it was a matter for each garda officer ‘‘to assess the impending situation themselves and that they would, having regard to the Garda Sı´ocha´na firearms regulations, have to make up their own mind and their own assessment as to what amount of force they would have to use in the situation that confronted them at the time’’. He went on to say that he ‘‘could not
tell them to shoot or not to shoot because that is a completely individualistic area where you have to make up your own mind on the situation that is confronting you.’’
16. Conclusion of the incident
On the evening of 1 6th January Mr. Isenborger told the gardaı´ that he wanted to spend the evening with his mother but that he would ‘‘finish’’ the siege at 8:00 a.m. the following morning. Further negotiations then took place that led to Mr. Isenborger agreeing to hand over the other guns in his possession before coming out of the house. On foot of this agreement three officers went to the house at approximately 8:30 a.m. on the morning of 1 7th January, spoke to Mr. Isenborger and entered the house. He was subsequently arrested.
17. Observation of police experts
Mr. Alan Bailey
Mr. Bailey said that the manner in which Bawnboy was managed was more like that by which an incident in the UK would be handled in terms of the positioning of the command vehicles and negotiating cells.
Mr. Michael Burdis
Mr. Burdis said that the evidence at Bawnboy indicates that ‘‘there are practices within the management of An Garda Sı´ocha´na that cover the formal handling of such a situation’’. He went on to say: ‘‘it begs the question as to why Detective Sergeant Jackson, newly trained and appointed as a negotiator, was not provided with the correct support and formal documentation’’. He said that it was clear that the following were present at Bawnboy:
i. a clear command structure;
ii. a clearly identifiable negotiating cell with proper records being maintained in log form;
iii. the command post was located in a safe place;
iv. a scene commander’s log was maintained;
v. CCTV was available to the scene commander; and,
vi. significantly more ERU officers were available, particularly on the inner cordon.
He said that the two incidents were quite different, but their one similarity was that they were both siege situations and that ‘‘there is a methodology in the way that you approach a siege situation’’ and ‘‘that methodology should be there in whichever scene you are attending and the approach to it should be the same each time’’.
He said that it is ‘‘only how the situation develops that changes, because of the response and the way that the individual who is the subject of the siege, behaves. The methodology should not be different. It should be the same every time.’’ Finally he
observed that at Bawnboy there were ‘‘all sorts of facilities available that didn’t seem to apply or were even tried to be applied at Abbe ylara’’.