Man claims he spent 10 days in jail due to name mix-up on garda pulse system

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19 November 2021

A man has claimed before the High Court that he wrongfully spent 10 days in jail after gardaí merged his PULSE-computer system profile with that of another unrelated person with a similar name.

Joseph Connor (34) from Scarlet Crescent, Drogheda, Co Louth, has launched proceedings arising out of his arrest last July 19 for allegedly committing a public order offence.

Following his arrest, he was told by the gardaí there was a live bench warrant in existence for him and he was denied station bail.

Mr Connor at all times disputed the existence of such a warrant against him.

He was detained in Drogheda and brought before a sitting of the District Court the following day.

Despite his protestations, the District Court was wrongly told that Mr Connor had a substantial bench warrant history which was provided to the court.

Mr Connor said that he had always attended his court dates.

The judge hearing the case remanded Mr Connor in custody with consent to bail, the conditions of which required that an independent surety of €250 be lodged.

Mr Connor was not in a position to meet that condition, either on that date or when his case was next mentioned before the District Court, due to a lack of financial means and there was no person willing to come forward to act as a surety.

As a result, he spent a total of 10 days in Cloverhill Prison on remand.

He was released on July 29 after he was able to put up the surety.

At the High Court Micheal O’Higgins SC for Mr Connor said that it subsequently transpired that the bench warrant did not relate to his client.

Counsel said the bench warrant was in respect of a person called ‘Joseph O’Connor,’ with a different date of birth, and address.

Counsel said when his client’s case returned before the District Court in September and the gardaí accepted responsibility for making the error.

What appeared to have happened was that gardaí had merged his client’s PULSE profile with that of the other man, counsel said.

The information put before the court last July was attributable to a person called ‘Joseph O’Connor’ and not his client, counsel said.

Counsel said his client’s rights had been breached and he had suffered damage due to the Commissioner’s negligence due to a patently erroneous merging of Garda PULSE profiles.

Arising out of his incarceration, Mr Connor has brought judicial review proceedings against the Commissioner and the Governor of Cloverhiil Prison.

Mr Connor seeks various orders, including an order for damages, and declarations from the court and that he is given an apology.

These include an order compelling the Garda Commissioner to investigate and provide him with full reasons as to why his Constitutional Rights and Rights under the European Convention were breached,

He also seeks an order quashing orders by the District Court remanding him in custody.

The matter came before Mr Justice Anthony Barr, who on an ex-parte (one side only represented) basis, granted Mr Connor permission to bring his action.

The case comes back to court next month.

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