Drug trade-linked garda investigated over car tax scam

Ex-detective garda Tom Higgins, named in an intelligence file linking him to the drug trade, was previously investigated over his alleged involvement in a tax scam.

Higgins, a serving detective in Athlone station till last year, was also ordered by the High Court in 2017 to pay €65,000 in compensation to a bouncer who fled his community after being assaulted by the ex-garda.

The Ditch reported earlier this week that Higgins allegedly “looked after” a local drug dealer, according to a 2014 garda intelligence report.

‘You don’t know who I am’

In 2015 an unnamed midlands-based garda was suspended over allegations he imported high-specification cars from Great Britain and wrongly registered them for lower vehicle registration tax with the help of a Revenue official, reported the Irish Independent

The Ditch has learnt the unidentified garda is ex-Athlone detective Tom Higgins. The allegations first came to light when the Revenue Commissioners sent a report on the alleged scam to gardaí in Athlone in 2014. 

In 2016 the Sunday Times reported, again without naming Higgins, that he was further alleged to have pressured a garda colleague into abandoning the investigation before it identified him as the main suspect. Higgins wasn’t prosecuted over the allegations and denied any wrongdoing when contacted by The Ditch earlier this week.

Higgins was also involved in an assault case.

In 2017 the High Court found that Higgins, while off-duty, had assaulted a bouncer in a county Mayo nightclub in 2011. 

The court ordered him to pay €65,000 in compensation. 

The bouncer gave evidence that after the assault, Higgins had told him, “You don’t know who I am.”

Justice Caroline Costello in her judgment said she “(believed) the plaintiff when he described the anxiety and worrying he experienced when he heard that Mr Higgins was a member of An Garda Síochána”.

“He kicked him at least three times in the groin area,” said Costello on Higgins’s assault. 

Judge Costello considered “the fact that he and his family felt obliged suddenly to leave Westport where he had settled and was happy” when she determined the compensation awarded to the bouncer.

Higgins was unsuccessfully prosecuted over the same incident following a 2013 district court trial.

The Ditch reported on Tuesday that a 2014 garda intelligence report named Higgins as one of three Athlone-based gardaí suspected of involvement with drug dealing in the midlands town.

Higgins joined An Garda Síochána in 1998 and served as detective garda till last year. He runs a used car business in Athlone.

The Ditch editors

The Ditch editors