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Couple Sentenced For Falsely Accusing Garda

Irish Times, 16 December, 2010 by Claire O'Brien

A COUPLE who falsely accused a garda of interfering with their four-year-old daughter have each been given a suspended jail sentence of three years.

Imposing sentence, Judge Anthony Kennedy described as insidious, persistent and sustained the lie spread by the Laois couple that the garda had interfered with the girl in her home last year.

He said the rumour spread in August 2009 was “impossible to stop”, and they had done nothing to spread the word of the man’s innocence when they were arrested in February 2010.

Portlaoise Circuit Court heard the garda had been personally “destroyed” by the allegation that he had gone to the child’s home and pulled down her trousers. The rumour had “spread like wildfire”, investigating Garda Supt John Moloney said.

The garda was described in court as an excellent community policeman with an impeccable record. He was not known personally to the mother when she “blurted out” his name and the allegation to the Health Service Executive during a family meeting in August last year.

The woman had falsely believed the garda had not taken the couple’s side in a local dispute.

Investigations showed the garda had been investigating an attempted armed robbery at a local post office at the time of the alleged offence.

Counsel for the woman, Catherine Roberts, said the woman had acted out of a deep concern that her daughter would be taken into care by the HSE, which was working with the family.

The lie was an unsophisticated distraction contrived because of her panicked desire to protect her daughter from the abuse she herself suffered in two State institutions between the ages of 7 and 17.

She was now receiving counselling and understood “the terrible wrongness” of taking the garda’s good name. Jail would be a harrowing experience from which the 42-year-old might never recover, she said.

Counsel for the father, Conor Roberts, said he had always sought to support his partner, but in this case had gone too far.

During sentencing, Judge Kennedy referred to information in a probation report that had not been read out in court but which was important for the public to know to understand sentencing.

As a child the woman had been prostituted by a drunken mother and it was no wonder she had carried depression and poor mental health into adulthood, he said.

Her childhood had been “dire” and she had been given “a horribly deprived chance in life”. Her “reduced mental capacity and general ignorance, coupled with [her partner’s] unstinting blind support had combined with a groundless fear that their daughter would be taken into care”, he said.

However, the rumour the couple spread would have been taken as true “not just by the gullible, but by the malicious”.


False Claim About Child 'Destroyed' Garda's Life

Irish Times, 15 December, 2010 by Claire O'Brien

A GARDA falsely accused of interfering with a four-year-old child in her home has been personally destroyed, a senior member of the force has said.

Garda Supt John Moloney was giving evidence against a couple who pleaded guilty to making false allegations that an officer had come to their home, taken down the child’s trousers and caused her to run crying from the room.

He told Portlaoise Circuit Court the allegation was groundless but “spread like wildfire” in a rural area and “destroyed the man in his community”. The couple had chosen that garda, whom they had never met and who had never been in their home, because he had not taken their side in one of a series of squabbles between people in the rural Laois area.

Supt Moloney said the officer had “an impeccable record and an exemplary disciplinary history. He is an excellent community garda in a small station, doing his job.”

While his reputation was untainted in the force, the superintendent could not say that was the case in the community, because “these things don’t go away easy”.

The court heard the girl’s mother feared she would be taken into care after she found blood in her underwear after collecting her from childcare in April 2009. She phoned the childminder, who, concerned for her own standing in the face of a possible child abuse case, reported the matter to the HSE.

It later emerged the blood was due to a urinary tract infection, but the HSE took a keen interest in the girl’s welfare.

In August last year her mother “blurted out” at a HSE meeting that on June 8th the garda arrived in a patrol car. She alleged he walked through the open front door and asked: “What’s all this about an allegation of sexual abuse?” She said he then pulled down the girl’s trousers but not her underwear, looked at her and walked out as she ran away, crying. There was no allegation that he had sexually abused her.

The four-year-old was professionally interviewed but there was no disclosure of interference or of any contact with the garda. At the time of the alleged offence, he had been dealing with an attempted armed raid at a nearby post office.

After an inquiry in which up to 70 statements were taken, the couple were arrested and the woman admitted to gardaí she had made up the story. Her partner continued to uphold the story until his second interview.

The Garda superintendent did not agree with counsel for the defendants that they had tried to undo the damage by telling the truth locally about what occurred.

Judge Anthony Kennedy will continue the sentencing hearing today.