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Garda ar Lár
Garda ar LárRTÉ One, Monday, 7.30pm (Repeat)

Programme 3: Garda Patrick Gerard Reynolds

Monday 2nd February 2009

Patrick Gerard Reynolds grew up in rural Sligo, where he was known as Gerard, and joined the Gardaí in 1978. He was stationed at Tallaght as a young recruit and eventually joined the motorcycle division.

Garda Reynolds was on night duty on the 19th of February 1982. It was a busy weekend in Dublin as a General Election had just been held, and on top of that Ireland's Rugby team was hoping to win the Triple Crown against Scotland in Lansdowne Road on the Saturday, a match Garda Reynolds was to attend with his brother, sister and some friends.

At 1.30am an anonymous phonecall came through to the station with information about suspicious activity taking place in a block of flats in Tallaght. Five Gardaí went to investigate and on arrival at 33 Avonbeg Gardens, two of them forced their way in. Inside the flat were armed men counting the proceeds of a bank robbery.

A struggle ensued and as two of the gunmen ran from the flat they were faced with Garda Reynolds, who, unarmed, retreated back down the stairs. But nevertheless he was shot in the back and bled to death as his killer escaped. Garda Patrick Gerard Reynolds was just 23 years old.

The murder hunt pointed to the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) as the culprits, and the chief suspect was a Belfast man, Sean 'Bap' Hughes. He was tracked down in France in late 1982, and Gardaí who believed they saw him in Tallaght on the fateful night were sent out to identify him, which they duly did. Eventually extradition proceedings were put in place to return him for trial in Ireland for the murder, but this dragged on for a number of years and the extradition was eventually refused by the French courts in 1987. After serving time in a French jail on false passport charges, Hughes was deported and it was understood he dissappeared to Africa.

Years later - in 1997 Sean Hughes was back in Ireland and was captured red handed by an off-duty Garda after he'd robbed the Bank of Ireland on Main St., Foxford, Co. Mayo. Local Gardaí did not realise that they had in their grasp a fugitive who was on the most wanted list for 15 years, but he was eventually identified by senior detectives by his tattoos.

Hughes was tried for the capital murder of Garda Patrick Gerard Reynolds in March 2000, but the court did not accept the prosecution case against Hughes and he was acquitted of the murder. He had previously been sentenced to 8 years for the bank robbery in Foxford, but only month after the murder trial he was released under the terms of the Good Friday agreement.

This episode of Garda ar Lár looks back at a story which spanned a period of 18 years. The programme visits the Reynolds family home in Barroe on the shores of Lough Arrow in County Sligo where Frank Reynolds, a brother of Patrick Gerard, also a serving Garda, talks about growing up with Gerard on the family farm, and about the devastating effect his murder had on their parents. A childhood friend, journalist Marese McDonagh also talks about growing up with Gerard and about meeting him in Dublin for the very last time.

We hear from former Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne on the impact the killing had on the force and also speak with William Brennan, formerly of the Ballistics Section of an Garda Síochána, who examined the crime scene the night Garda Reynolds was killed. Former RTE security correspondent Tom McCaughren, legal expert Sinéad Ní Chúlacháin BL and commentator Liam Cahill also contribute to the programme.

Presenter / Reporter: Garry Mac Donncha
Producer / Director: Laura Ní Cheallaigh

Garda Patrick Reynolds
Garda Patrick Reynolds
Garda Reynolds, Templemore
Garda Reynolds, Templemore
Former Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne
Former Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne