Interesting case started yesterday where James Livingstone is suing the State for wrongfully mounting a campaign against him following his wife’s murder. It’s not too far removed from some recent high profile cases where there’s a death and then the Gardai let it be known (through their pals in the media) who killed the wife and then there’s an assumption that colours their investigation and every media report on the incident.
I know a small bit about this case from local hearsay and everyone would tell you the same shite about “the Gardai know it was the husband, they just can’t make it stick.” This is something that happens far too often in this country and it needs to be stopped. I don’t really know that much about the actual facts of this case but I do know that the Gardai spent far more time telling all and sundry what they thought happened, instead of actually investigating it.
Anyway here’s the Irish Times report on the first day of the case:
Garda had ‘irrational fixation’ that man killed wife
AN ACTION against the State by James Livingstone, whose wife Grace was murdered in Malahide more than 15 years ago, has heard a claim that garda developed “an irrational fixation” that he had killed her.
The retired Revenue tax inspector began his action for damages in the High Court yesterday, arising from the conduct of the Garda investigation into the unsolved murder.
Mr Livingstone (70) is joined in the action by his daughter Tara Beauchamp (37) and son Conor (35). Grace Livingstone was bound, gagged and shot in the family home at The Moorings, Malahide, on December 7th, 1992.
The alarm was raised by Mr Livingstone, who arrived home from work at about 5.50 pm and found her body in their bedroom.
John Rogers SC for Mr Livingstone told Mr Justice John MacMenamin that the loss by Mr Livingstone of his lovely wife was “a tragic event as it stood . . . but it became worse, judge, because, against all the evidence, garda became fixated that James Livingstone had killed his wife”.
Mr Rogers said “there was no evidence for that and, regrettably, this fixation blighted the investigation that was to ensue”.
The fixation caused garda “to openly assert” that Mr Livingstone had killed his wife. His client was “pilloried” as a murderer, was pressed to declare his guilt when he was detained for questioning in March 1993 and was “abused” while he was detained.
He said Mr Livingstone had been wrongly arrested and a search of the home was “a wrongful search”. These events had “magnified the loss” and Mr Livingstone had still not recovered. “He may never do so.”
For Conor and Tara, who accompanied their father in court yesterday, the loss of their mother had been “compounded” by the wrongful attribution of guilt to their father for so long. Ms Beauchamp was living in France when her mother was killed. Conor Livingstone was living at home and working in the city centre.
The court heard that he only learned about his mother’s death when he walked past Malahide Garda station on his way home from work late on December 7th and bumped into a relative.
Mr Livingstone is claiming damages for alleged false imprisonment, abuse of legal process, abuse of power and/or misfeasance of public office, conspiracy and other matters.
Mr Rogers said his client was “a distinguished servant of this community and of the State”. He was assigned to Revenue’s new special inquiry branch in 1979 and became a senior inspector of taxes in 1981. At the time of his wife’s death, he was involved in two major anti-tax evasion projects. One involved hydrocarbon fuel smuggling while the other related to bogus non-resident accounts.
The couple, who had married in 1968, had a life that was “abundant in its joy” and “idyllic”, with Mr Livingstone’s non-work life revolving entirely around the family. Mr Livingstone was a senior figure in the FCA and enjoyed outdoor pursuits such as shooting, fishing and sailing. Mrs Livingstone loved gardening and flower arranging.
The court heard that Mr Livingstone and his son last saw Mrs Livingstone alive when they left for work at about 8.20am on the day she died. He picked up his colleague Art O’Connor, who lived locally and continued into town.
He left the office at about 5pm and brought Mr O’Connor home, before arriving at his house shortly before 6pm.
In a statement, Mr O’Connor said he was “absolutely satisfied” that Mr Livingstone had not sneaked home, killed his wife and returned to drive him home from work. Mr Rogers said Mr O’Connor would say that the garda “gave the impression they weren’t getting the answers they wanted” when he gave his account of the events.
Information offered from several people about the sighting of a young man in the area on the day of the murder did not appear to have been comprehensively followed up, Mr Rogers said.
Philip McGibney, who had been topping trees in the neighbourhood, told garda he saw a young man at the Livingstones’s front door at about 4.30pm on the day of the murder. Another man gave a similar description of a man speeding away from the area at about the same time. Several schoolchildren also made statements about the young man.
From early on, Mr Livingstone believed the murder related to his work and gave garda a list of suspects, including some people living in Border areas.