A number of related policing and judicial scandals have followed the murder of a 22-year-old woman at a party in Dublin last weekend.
Young mother Donna Cleary was shot dead when gunmen opened fire on the house after being refused entry at a birthday party. Ms Cleary was hit when the men returned to the party in Dublin’s Coolock and sprayed the house with bullets from a car.
The shocking murder is seen as a symptom of the Dublin government’s inability to deal with the increasing problem of armed drugs crime in the capital.
It then emerged that the main suspect, Dwayne Foster, a 24-year-old from Finglas, would still be in prison if the courts had imposed a mandatory 10-year jail sentence when he was caught with a large quantity of drugs in 1999.
The suspect was instead jailed for six years after being caught with drugs worth #150,000. That quantity was 15 times the #10,000 value which would have made him eligible for the mandatory 10-year jail term.
In another highly controversial development, Mr Foster, who had been linked to major armed robberies and drug dealing in the capital, mysteriously died in police custody on Tuesday.
He was confirmed dead at Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital at around 3am on Tuesday after falling ill at Coolock Garda station. He was seen by doctors at least three times while being questioned and was rushed to hospital on two separate occasions.
A police spokesman suggested Mr Foster could have died of a personal medical condition. It was reported he may have suffered a brain haemorrhage.
The Labour Party yesterday called for an independent investigation into the suspect’s death.
“The Garda inquiry is not sufficient, and the matter should be handed over to the new Garda Ombudsman Commission being set up by the government,” said Labour justice spokesman Joe Costello.
Sinn Féin Dublin city councillors Dessie Ellis and Larry O’Toole said it was “crucial” that any investigation into his death be “fully independent and transparent.”
And in yet another twist, an alleged accomplice of Mr Foster was released from custody after he contested the legality of his continued detention.
The High Court ruled last night that the District Judge’s warrant, which allowed gardai to detain Finglas man Jeffrey Finnegan for another 24 hours, had been made 25 minutes after the initial detention period had expired.
The three other suspects in the case were subsequently released without charge.