Security guard impersonated Garda officer

by Conor Dempsey

A former College security attendant was convicted of impersonating a Garda, possession of unlicensed firearms and possession of child pornography during the summer.

William Derwin of Dolmen Way, Poppintree, Ballymun, was given an 18-month suspended sentence by Judge Patrick McCartan in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on 29 June. Derwin pleaded guilty to impersonating a Garda, possession of a Beretta pistol, a 9mm Glock pistol, a rifle, 175 rounds of blank shotgun ammunition and child pornography at his home on 9 November, 2008.

Derwin was stopped by Garda Robert Roe who spotted a Ford Mondeo driving at 120 km/h around Dublin’s north inner city. Roe said that the car looked like an official unmarked Garda car. Derwin stopped his vehicle when the marked car sounded its siren. He told Roe that he was a Garda “on the job” and was allowed to continue. Still suspicious of the car, Roe sent its registration to Garda control who confirmed that it was not an official vehicle. Derwin was then pulled over again after he was seen breaking two red lights at speed.

When his house was searched a range of garda paraphernalia were found including handcuffs, a radio scanner, a utility belt and firearm holster, Garda badges, camouflage gear, Garda-style shirts, ties and gloves as well as a Pearse Street station calling card. Roe told the court that Derwin was “almost proud” when showing the Gardaí his substantial collection.

Derwin would use the radio scanner, which he bought at a Dublin communications store, to listen in on Garda frequencies where he learned to recognise certain call signals, though he could not broadcast messages of his own. He claims to have bought his starter pistols from a man in Meath and his various items of Garda uniform from an army surplus store.

An album containing 72 pictures of naked and semi-naked boys was also found at Derwin’s home. The pictures were printed on A4 photographic paper and were of boys aged between eight and fifteen years old.

Derwin denied that the images were child pornography at first but later he admitted to having experienced sexual attraction to young men since the early 1990s. He claimed that the images now “repulsed” him and that he had downloaded them while discovering he was gay.

Derwin has no previous convictions and is currently on dialysis for four hours a day, three times a week. Roe did acknowledge to Joseph Barnes BL, defending, that Derwin had been fully cooperative and had a good work history.

When asked why he had impersonated Gardaí, Derwin replied that he had always liked the idea of being a Garda and that it was all about bravado. He described stopping drivers and giving them warnings for having no fog lights or speeding, before letting them go. He also described how he would occasionally walk along Sean McDermott Street dressed as a Garda and attract the attention of local youths so that they would salute him as a Garda and he would salute back. Derwin said that he had had to drop out of the army because of illness and that he thought people would respect him more as a Garda than they did as a security attendant in Trinity.

Judge McCartan noted that this was a peculiar case of a man “who went slowly off the rails leading a Walter Mitty style life”. He added that Derwin lived an hermitic life with no family, had difficulty forming relationships, and had used the Internet for sexual gratification. He hoped that Derwin had learned his lesson and that he would not reoffend now that his name had been added to the sex offenders register.

When asked by Trinity News about whether security-vetting procedures were sufficient given the fact that Derwin was employed as a Trinity security attendant, a College spokesperson said that “standard vetting procedures apply to all security staff, which are currently principally based on references and referees”. When asked specifically if there was any in-depth vetting done for security guards above standard staff vetting College replied: “Our recruitment and vetting procedures for security staff are reviewed on an on-going basis and take account of the evolving role of the security staff in a constantly changing security environment on Campus. Potential security staff members are subject to very rigorous, job specific assessment and vetting prior to recruitment. They also serve a lengthy probationary period during which time their overall performance and general behaviour is monitored closely and formally assessed on a regular basis”.

We also inquired into the nature and extent of access security personnel have to on-campus accommodation and received the following response from a college spokesperson: “security staff have restricted access to student accommodation. This access is governed by strict protocols covering emergencies and responding to ‘calls for assistance’.”

When asked for clarification on exactly how this protocol controlled access to rooms, and whether there was any way a security guard could breach protocol and gain access to rooms in situations other than those specified, we were told by a college spokesperson that they could not comment further but that “individual security guards do not hold keys to residences”.

Several individual security guards were approached by Trinity News in relation to this issue but none wished to comment.