From The Socialist
Over two years have now passed since the arrest and detention of 22-year-old Terence Wheelock, which led to his death. He was brought to Store Street Garda Station on 2 June 2005, and within three hours was found unconscious in his cell. He never recovered and died on 16 September.
The Gardai have claimed he hung himself, yet all the evidence suggests that this is a cover-up. The family’s demand for a public inquiry has been refused, and the internal Garda investigation is led by a Guard who worked in Store St. for 15 years.
From the moment of his death, the Gardai have consistently impeded the attempts of his family to discover what happened. It took them nine and a half minutes after his body was discovered to ring the ambulance, and Terence was moved from the cell while unconscious by the Gardai. They drove Terence’s mother to St. James’ hospital, when Terence was actually in the Mater. However, Terence’s brother went to the Mater, where he found the Gardai taking Terence’s bloodstained clothes away.
The Gardai’s claim that Terence hung himself just doesn’t stand up. Terence was by all accounts a happy individual, who loved life and was not suffering from depression.
They consistently refused to hand over Terence’s clothes for examination. A forensic pathologist from Britain, Dr. Carl Gray who has now examined the clothes has found that there’s no logical explanation for the blood on the clothing and that it wasn’t consistent with a “hanging”. Despite a court order to preserve Terence’s cell for examination, it was renovated before it could be examined.
The strong local support for the campaign for a public inquiry is clear. A protest to mark the second anniversary of his arrest was attended by over 500 people.
Terence’s tragic case yet again highlights the unaccountable nature of the Gardai. They operate as a law unto themselves, defending the interests of big business while trampling over the rights of working class people. It brings into sharp relief the need for a police force under the democratic control of the communities they’re meant to serve.