A district court judge said prolonged vile and evil abuse hurled at gardaí by an arrested retired sergeant was the worst he had ever heard.

Joseph Kiely (63) of Old Golf Course Road, Tullycullion, Donegal Town claimed to have a cancer curse. He told three gardaí they would die of cancer within five years. The defendant also told a woman into whose car he crashed that cancer would visit her. Tragically, the woman has since died of cancer.

Wednesday’s sitting of Donegal District Court heard that Kiely was arrested for drink driving following the collision at Quay Street, Donegal Town on October 11, 2015.

Sergeant Oliver Devaney attended the scene along with Garda Sean Rogers. 

They found a Ford Mondeo owned by the late Shirley Walsh of Ballintra in the main carriageway approaching Donegal Town. Kiely’s Nissan Almera was at a right angle to the Mondeo. Both cars were damaged. Kiely had been exiting the carpark when he collided with Ms Walsh.

Sergeant Devaney said: “I spoke to him and asked him for his driving licence. He said 'this is a set-up. It is orchestrated. She crashed into me.”'

Both drivers were then breathalysed. Ms Walsh passed the roadside breath test, while Kiely failed.

Sergeant Devaney arrested the defendant.

“He said the to the lady in an aggressive tone ‘Cancer will visit you,’” said the sergeant.

Kiely was taken to Donegal Town Garda Station. During the obligatory 20-minute observation period which precedes a blood, breath or urine test, Kiely was highly abusive.

Sergeant Devaney said: “He told me ‘Cancer will visit you.  I have the power of cancer over you. Your offspring will get cancer. You will all be dead within five years.’”

The comments were aimed at Garda Rogers, Garda Doherty who was also present, and Sergeant Devaney.

Garda Rogers then gave evidence.

“He said he had the tinker’s cancer curse that he got in a dark place in Connemara,” said the garda. “He said if I had offspring they would all die kicking and screaming of cancer. And he said I would die of cancer within three years.”

Garda Rogers told the court that Kiely signed all documents with the words ‘cancer curse.’

The defendant also called the three officers c**ts and said Garda Rogers had orchestrated the crash.

When the test was carried out, Kiely showed a reading of 51mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath.


Counsel for the defence Mr Sean McGee acting for solicitor Catherine Boner of Sinead Bradley & Sweeney Solicitors asked Garda Rogers if he had ever worked with Kiely.

The garda replied that he had been in a different division but would have worked under Kiely when on overtime shifts. He said as a sergeant, Kiely had been kind and intelligent. But something had changed in the intervening years.

Mr McGee then asked if the defendant’s comments were within what would have been expected from someone with a moderate alcohol reading.

Garda Rogers said: “This was completely off the scale. I never experienced something that extreme for that prolonged a period.”

Mc McGee made two submissions to Judge Kevin Kilrane. Firstly there was no evidence given of actual driving, a crucial element of a drink driving case. Secondly, there was insufficient evidence concerning the time of driving.

However, Judge Kilrane ruled against him on both points. He said in considering the totality of the evidence, Kiely was the driver. On the point of time of driving, the judge reminded Mr McGee that Garda Rogers saw the defendant leave a pub ten minutes before attending the scene.


In considering sentence, Judge Kilrane said: “I was in practice for 34 years as a solicitor and for almost 10 years I have been in my present position. I have never heard such vile utterances out of anyone in custody. Shocking, vile abuse and not a murmur of apology.

“Garda Rogers had difficulty giving his evidence in court. A very honest, decent Garda. A youngish community garda scarcely able to give his evidence with emotion at the vile, evil abuse that was hurled at him. It is the worst I have ever come across.”

The judge asked if the defendant had any explanation for this behaviour.

Mr McGee took instruction from Kiely before replying: “I am somewhat constrained. My client claims he was forced out of Donegal by a campaign of intimidation.”

When Judge Kilrane asked the defendant directly why he hurled such vile abuse at the three gardaí, Kiely claimed they turned a blind eye to his harassment. He told the court that he had submitted a 100-page file to Garda HQ on the matter of his intimidation.

Kiely did not apologise in court.


The judge sentenced Kiely to two months in prison, fined him €500 and disqualified him from holding a driving licence for two years.

“The reason for the sentence is the extreme aggravating factors on the night in question,” said Judge Kilrane.

Recognisance was set at €100 own bond not cash and independent surety of €1,500 of which €500 must be lodged with the court.

Further charges of driving without road tax, careless driving, non-display of tax and non-display of insurance were withdrawn.



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