Woman arrested and detained in Mountjoy in case of mistaken identity tells her story

Amy Daly Picture: Collins Courts
By Steve Neville

A woman arrested and detained in Mountjoy Prison for something she didn't do has spoken out about the case of mistaken identity regarding an unpaid television license.

Amy Daly, now 27, was speaking on RTÉ Radio 1's Today with Sean O'Rourke about the incident that happened in January 2015.

Ms Daly told the radio programme that she had been making a sandwich for her son, Jayden, when two gardaí appeared at her door.

She said they asked her if her name was Amy, and Ms Daly told them it was.

"They asked me if I knew that there was a warrant for my arrest, that I was due to appear in court the day before - which was the 8th of January - and also just before Christmas.

"I told them they must be completely wrong, mistaken. I said what was it in relation to and they said a television license."

Ms Daly said she explained to the gardaí that she had just moved into the house and had been collecting stamps for the television license.

The television license inspector was actually with me the day before. I had €144 worth of stamps and I had €16 remanding. He gave me five weeks to pay it and said everything was good and welcome to the neighbourhood.

The law student asked the gardaí if she could see the warrant and was told she would have to go down to the station to see it.

After finding a neighbour to mind her son, Ms Daly went to the garda station. She was asked for her name, which she gave but was never asked for a form of ID.

"They told me I was there over a television license. I explained to them again, I had my stamp book with me and I explained the television license inspector was with me the day before.

"I was processed then and my belongings were taken from me and I asked to see the warrant again. The male garda who came to my door told me he would go and get the warrant for me but I was told I would have to be put into the cell.

"So I was processed and placed into a cell in Tullamore Garda Station."

Ms Daly said had asked to see the warrant about five time when she was in Tullamore Garda Station and that while she was in the cell she "was full of fear, panic attacks...I was just thinking about my son."

She said she never got to see the warrant and that she was in the cell for approximately six hours.

Ms Daly said when the cell was opened at around 6pm she thought she was going to be able to go home - only to be told that she was being transferred to the Dóchas Centre in a garda van.

"I asked to make a phone call and I was told to use my own phone," Ms Daly said when asked if she had had an opportunity to make a phone call to anyone.

"When I got into the back of the garda van I had my belongings in an envelope and my phone was there. So I took out my phone and I just quickly got to call my mam, tell her where Jayden was and to say that was in a bit of a situation and my phone died.

"I was taken straight up then to the Dóchas Centre in Mountjoy and I was processed there and I was placed in a holding cell with two other women."

Mountjoy Prison

Ms Daly said she was in Mountjoy from around 7pm until around 10pm.

She said that while they were in the holding cell, "we were called out one by one basically to be processed further.

"I was in front of two prison officers and they asked me my name. I said my name is Amy Daly.

They told me 'look you're being very dishonest, you're giving a wrong name.' And I said no my name is Amy Daly. And this said 'If you keep being dishonest we can keep you in longer'.

She said the prison officers asked for more identification when Ms Daly remembered she had her bank card. It was then that there was a realisation that a mistake had been made.

"They were just gobsmacked, they could not believe it. They were like: Oh my God, a serious mistake is after being made.

And I said I'm trying to tell ye this all day but nobody is listening to me.

Ms Daly was then told she would have to be placed back into a cell while the prison officers rang Tullamore Garda Station to see what had gone wrong. She would also have to provide a contact for someone to pick her up.

Ms Daly said her father picked her up and she was given a temporary release form with her photograph and "the other persons" name on it.

"The Governor came out and told us a huge mistake is after being made and you need to take it up with Tullamore Garda Station. Basically, it's not our fault, you need to take it up with Tullamore."

Ms Daly said they went straight to Tullamore and her father asked: "Can you tell me why my daughter was sent to Mountjoy over a television license in another person's name?"

They asked to see the warrant again and were told it had been misplaced.

Ms Daly said they went to court over the case, which was settled.

She also stated that: "I never got an apology and I don't expect to get one at this stage. I'm not going to the one. They've held their hands up."

Ms Daly said in the past she had suffered from panic attacks and anxiety and she had been off her medication, but when the case of mistaken identiy happened she said it all came back.

However, she said she is currently sitting her FE-1 exams to become a solicitor.

You can listen to the full interview below.

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