Garda failings criticized in search for missing man
from various sources – May 2017
contributions by – Halima Iqra Ghafoor & Neelam Bi
Updates listed at the foot of this item
Shane Tuohey was only 23 years-old when he went missing on the 2 February 2002. Shane was from Rahan, Co. Offlay and disappeared after a night out in Clara. After seven days his body was recovered from the River Brosna and he was formally announced dead. His family believe he was assaulted and that the circumstances surrounding his death were not investigated properly. The Garda, however, treated his death as a suicide.
Whilst some shortcomings in the initial investigation were highlighted, the commissioner’s office said, “Both investigations into this matter reveal no evidence to suggest that his death was of a criminal nature”
Shane was out drinking with his friends and was last seen at about 4.30am. His brother Edwin had discovered his body and pulled him out of the river. Some other people also helped him to get Shane out of the water and then the Garda were called.
A Coroner’s inquest later declared that the death was due to drowning and the Garda suspected he had taken his own life. However his family would not accept this version of events.
Two independent coroner’s reports, commissioned by the family of Shane, maintained that the cause of death was undetermined and that homicide could not be ruled out.
Also an independent forensic pathologist from the United States, Dr Kim Collins, who examined the scene, said no conclusion of death by drowning should have been made.
Shane’s brother went to speak to the man who he believed was the last person to see him alive. The man explained how Shane was abused. It was evident that there had been verbal and physical abuse directed at Shane by a group of men both months before and on the night he went missing. Some of the men involved in the abuse were possibly among the last to see him alive.
The family found evidence that Garda were informed of a possible assault on Shane on the night of his disappearance but witnesses were not interviewed until several months later.
On the first day of Shane being announced missing relatively few Garda were present. And after the first day there was no effort, coordination or leadership in relation to the search for the remainder of the week. It would be the communities Clara and Rehan that put the most effort into the search for Shane.
After losing Shane the family did not feel they were given justice or sympathy and made claims they had been harassed and intimidated by Garda for wanting to get to the truth. Shane’s father said; “We are not sure what to expect from these people or if we can trust them after being let down so many times.”
“We just want to know the truth about what happened to Shane. But we want a proper investigation,”
There was a significant development in Shane’s case in 2015 when previously unseen CCTV footage came to light. At the time of his disappearance the Garda had collected CCTV tapes from around the town which would have been critical to establishing what happened but the Garda had apparently ‘lost’ them. Thirteen years on the tapes resurfaced. The CCTV cameras covered all the parts of the town where Shane was last seen alive.
In February 2017 the family of the late Shane said that they would have nothing to do with the upcoming independent, non-statutory inquiry into his death unless the terms of reference were changed allowing their legal team to be able to question witnesses under oath.
‘All we want is the truth’
24 February 2017
Family of Shane Tuohey cautiously welcome inquiry
14 June 2016
Shane Tuohey death – a significant breakthrough
17 February 2015