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‘Rape-tape’ sergeant awarded €33,000 in unrelated defamation case

Issued by Shell to Sea - Saturday, December 10th, 2011

The Garda Sergeant who was recorded saying, “Give me your name and address or I’ll rape you!” last March has been awarded €33,000 plus legal costs for alleged damage to his reputation in an unrelated defamation case against fisherman and Shell to Sea campaigner Pat ‘The Chief’ O’Donnell.


James Gill, a former Garda Sergeant, claimed that O’Donnell – star of the award-winning documentary ‘The Pipe’ – had said during a Corrib Gas protest on November 3rd 2006,  that Gill had stolen diesel and smuggled tyres. Gill claimed that these comments had exacerbated a pre-existing gastric condition and had caused him psychological injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Mr O’Donnell denied the claim and told the court he had been speaking about diesel that had been stolen from him in 1997 or 1998 which had remained unsolved but that his comments weren’t directed at Mr Gill.

However, Judge Margaret Heneghan accepted Gill’s word and ordered the fisherman to pay €27,500 in damages and €5,500 in aggravated damages.

Mr Gill claimed during questioning that he had been drawn into public scandal and that his reputation had been sullied due to the 2006 remarks. Mr O’Donnell’s solicitor made several attempts to ask Mr Gill about his role in the “rape tape” incident. However, Judge Heneghan refused to allow any questions about the issue, for reasons that remain unclear.

Last April, Gill admitted that he was the Garda who initiated the rape comments. He gave his story to The News of the World newspaper, which reported on April 10th, 2011 that: “Sgt James Gill, 51, has vowed to personally apologise...” for the remarks. The article continued: “Speaking on his behalf, one senior officer told how ... [Gill] had taken ‘full responsibility’.

Commenting on the award, Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway said: “James Gill is claiming that he was suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from November 2006, yet from then until April 2011 he continued being one of the main Gardaí in charge of policing Corrib protests. He was personally involved in many of the most violent incidents in which campaigners were viciously assaulted by Gardaí [1]. Mr. Gill always had a choice to come and police this protest; we have no choice but to protect our community and environment”.

At An Bord Pleanála’s Oral Hearing in 2010, evidence was heard of some of the stress and trauma suffered by local people in relation to the Corrib Gas project. A submission to the hearing quoted Dr Keith Swanick, a Belmullet-based medical professional, as saying: ‘half the people I’m seeing now from Glengad are suffering from stress and worry.’[2].

Shell to Sea spokesperson Maura Harrington “The judicial lesson from a female judge seems to be that you can joke about rape and still have your good ‘name’ valued at €33,000.




[1] Sgt Gill can be seen grabbing and dragging a campaigner by the neck at 3:15 into this YouTube clip from 11th June 2007.  20 people were injured by Garda actions on the day:

[2] ‘Now you are talking my language’ - Michael McCaughan - Submission to An Bord Pleanala Oral hearing:



Maura Harrington                    

Terence Conway              !/ShellToSea

The Shell to Sea Campaign has three main aims:

1) That any exploitation of the Corrib gas field be done in a safe way that will not expose the local community in Erris to unnecessary health, safety and environmental risks.

2) To renegotiate the terms of the Great Oil and Gas Giveaway, which sees Ireland’s 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent* off the West Coast go directly to the oil companies, with the Irish State retaining a 0% share, no energy security of supply and only 25% tax on profits against which all costs can be deducted.

3) To seek justice for the human rights abuses suffered by Shell to Sea campaigners due to their opposition to Shell’s proposed inland refinery.

*This figure is based on the estimate, issued by the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR) in 2006, that the amount of recoverable oil and gas in the Rockall and Porcupine basins, off Ireland’s west coast, is 10 BBOE (billion barrels of oil equivalent). Based on the average price of a barrel of oil for 2010 of $79, this works out at $790 billion, or €580 billion. This does not take account of further oil and gas reserves off Ireland’s south & east coasts or inland. The total volume of oil and gas which rightfully belongs to Ireland could be significantly higher. Also, as the global price of oil rises in the coming years, the value of these Irish natural resources will rise further.