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(en) Ireland, Anarchist journal Workers Solidarty #92 - Justice for Terence Wheelock by Jack White

Date Sat, 24 Jun 2006 10:11:48 +0300

Just over a year ago, on the 2nd of June 2005 Terence Wheelock
was arrested on suspicion of car theft and brought to Dublin’s
Store Street Garda station. Just two hours after his arrest he was
found unconscious in his cell. He entered a coma and passed away
in September 2005.

Protest outside police station organised by family
Protest outside police station organised by family

The Garda Press Office made a statement, claiming that Terence
had tied a ligature around his neck, and secured this to a
“fixture” which was “counter sunk into the wall”.
However the idea that Terence had hung himself is one which has
been contested by his family and which looks increasingly dubious
given subsequent revelations.

As per normal procedure Terence should have been checked in his
‘suicide proof’ cell on a regular basis. According to the
station records ten minutes before he was found unconscious his cell
was inspected and it was noted that he was asleep. The gardai claim
that in the next ten minutes he woke up, broke away the concrete
around a light switch which was about two and a half feet off the
ground with his bare hands and then hung himself. The ambulance
was called about 9 minutes after Terence was supposedly found in
his cell. There is no explanation over what caused this delay.
Likewise no one has explained why when the ambulance arrived
Terence was found in a hall close to the main desk of the station and
not in his cell.

Gardai called to the Wheelock house, informed Terence’s
mother Esther that her son had hung himself and was in the
southside St. James’ Hospital. These gardai then drove her to St.
James’. They claimed not to know the direction to get there and
Esther actually had to direct them. Terence had actually been
brought to the much closer Mater Hospital. By the time his family
had found this out and arrivedin the Mater his clothing had been
taken away by Gardai.

The Garda press statement mentioned that there was no evidence of
any bruising on Terence’s body which is completely
contradicted by his family who saw him in the hospital, and by
hospital photographs.

Any attempts the family have made to find out what happened have
been frustrated by the gardai and the state. In an effort to find out
what had happened in the cell the Wheelocks family solicitor
obtained a court order to preserve the it for technical examination.
Despite this order the cell was completely renovated, was
‘surgically cleaned’ and the light switch from which
Terence supposedly hung himself was removed.

When the family managed to get hold of the custody records the
names of the arresting gardai had been removed. The Wheelock
family have made many attempts to recover Terence’s clothes
for independent forensic examination. These attempts have been
continually rebuffed by the Dept of Justice.

The family’s calls for an independent investigation have been
refused and instead of this the garda commisioner has appointed
Detective Superintendent Oliver Hanley from Dun Laoghaire Garda
Station to look into the events around Terence’s death. Hanley
served in Store Street station for over fifteen years and as the family
have pointed out this makes him far from independent.

The Wheelock family have also been subject to intimidation and
even attacks from the gardai because of their campaign for an
investigation. On the third of June this year, just over a year since
Terence was arrested, his brother was distributing leaflets. He was
approached by a guard who tore up the leaflets and then tried to
arrest him. When members of the family questioned the reasons for
his arrest they were attacked by other gardai. In minutes over 30
gardai were on the scene, some of whom ran into the Wheelcok
house assaulting Terence’s mother, his six months pregnant
sister and terrifyong a two year old girl.In the days since this brutal
attack the gardai have stationed people outside the Wheelock home
in a blatent attempt at intimidation.

The Wheelocks are fighting for an independent inquiry into the
circumstances around Terence’s death. In the circumatances it
is quite a modest demand. However the case is important not just to
the Wheelocks, but to everyone living in this country today. Its
simply unacceptable that a man can die in police custody without
anyone having to explain what happened. If it happened to Terence
it can happen to any of us.

Jack White

This article is from Workers Solidarity 92, published June/July 2006

You can read more articles from this issue at

You can download the PDF file of WS92 from
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