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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Ex-garda denies sex attack on young woman in patrol car

Tim Healy

Published 29/03/2014 | 02:30

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Antoinette Canty, from Tralee Co Kerry, arriving at the Four Courts for her High Court action.
Antoinette Canty, from Tralee Co Kerry, arriving at the Four Courts for her High Court action.
Retired Garda Thomas Noonan
Retired Garda Thomas Noonan

A RETIRED garda who is alleged to have sexually assaulted a woman in his patrol car 13 years ago says he did not think to obtain his phone records for the time to help establish an alibi which showed he was at home on a meal break when the incident occurred.

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Thomas Noonan (60), who is being sued by Antoinette Canty (33) for assault and false imprisonment in the car in Listowel, Co Kerry, says he "did not particularly" think he should have retrieved copies of his bills to show he made a call from his home phone.

The call, which was to a colleague who was also at his home on a meal break, was to arrange for them to meet up again. It was claimed this would have established beyond doubt that he could not have been at a location miles away where the the alleged assault occurred.

Ms Canty is seeking High Court damages against Mr Noonan and the State after she claims the then garda gave her a lift in his patrol car on March 16, 2001, and, after driving past her family home, he allegedly put his hand on her upper thigh and tried to "get on" her.

Mr Noonan says the incident never happened while the State says it is not liable because he breached prohibitions on carrying a civilian in the patrol car.

Mr Noonan told the court he had brought a woman, who had drink taken, from a chip shop in the town in his patrol car to the nearby garda station so that her mother could be called to take her home as there were no cabs around at the time.

The court heard a garda investigation into the alleged assault was carried out and the DPP decided not to prosecute.

Yesterday, however, the court heard Mr Noonan dispute that Ms Canty was the same woman he came across a number of times on the night of the alleged incident. He said the woman he had met earlier had a handbag and Ms Canty did not.

When Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill told Mr Noonan this was "an extraordinary thing to say at this stage of the case", the former garda said he doubted Ms Canty was actually the woman he had dealt with.

MASQUERADING

The judge said Mr Noonan was effectively now saying that this was a fraudulent claim.

He said: "If you (Noonan) are right, then this court has spent seven days concerning that night on evidence that there were two blonde ladies with red tops and blue jeans around about the centre of Listowel involved in incidents.

"And, lo and behold, somebody turns up here as the plaintiff, masquerading, it would seem, as Ms Canty."

Mr Noonan, who is representing himself, replied to the judge: "There were two similar girls."

Richard Lyons SC, for the State, put it to Mr Noonan that he could have cleared up this matter immediately after the incident by telling investigators that his wife and daughter had heard him come home for his break. He said he did not do so then because that was "a matter for a later stage".

He also said he was advised by his Garda Representative Association solicitor to "just deny" the allegation.

He tried to get his phone records from his provider but that was not until 2009 because he did not know about Ms Canty's civil case until then.

Asked did he not think to get those records for an internal garda inquiry into the matter in 2004/5, he replied: "I did not particularly."

He strongly disputed a claim that he had been served with a summons in relation to Ms Canty's case as far back as March 2004. He agreed he had written a letter shortly after the incident saying "this girl has made untrue and scurrilous allegations against me".

He disagreed that regulations on carrying civilians in the squad car were inflexible as he had been instructed by superior officers on a number of occasions in his career to give a lift to drunk people who were a danger to themselves.

Earlier, under cross-examination, he strongly disagreed that during his meal break he had been looking around for Ms Canty, who he knew was in a vulnerable state, "because you had nefarious ideas on your mind".

Mr Justice O'Neill will deliver his judgment on Tuesday.

Irish Independent

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