Solicitor suing gardai after he was quizzed in child-sex probe
LIMERICK solicitor John Devane is suing the gardai, claiming he was falsely accused of sexual assault on a child after playing Santa at a school's Christmas party.
Mr Devane claimed in the High Court yesterday that the allegations that he assaulted a special needs child were part of "a witch hunt" against him.
After being questioned by gardai as a result of the allegation, which he categorically denied, his world "fell apart" and he was left "devastated", he said. He claims that during the course of the investigation, a garda said things to his sister and a friend which he claims were slanderous.
Mr Devane, of Quinlan Street, Limerick, has brought an action seeking damages for alleged slander, unlawful detention, and a failure to vindicate his rights. It is against Inspector Seamus Nolan and retired Chief Superintendent Gerard Mahon, the Ministers for Justice and Finance, the Garda Commissioner and the Attorney General. The defendants have denied all the claims.
Mr Devane told the court yesterday that as a victim of child abuse himself, he had considered throwing himself in to the River Shannon after the allegations were put to him during a 90-minute interview at Henry Street garda station in December, 1999. He claimed that the allegations were part of a campaign against him because he had acted for school staff who had been subject to dozens of false allegations of sexually abusing the students.
In his action, he claims he was falsely imprisoned during the December 1999 interview with the then Insp Mahon and the then Sergeant Nolan.
It is also claimed Insp Nolan, in an interview with Mr Devane's former partner and mother of his daughter, said "if she ever had a problem of a sexual nature in relation to Mr Devane and his daughter", he would personally investigate it and would ensure Mr Devane was charged.
Mr Devane said he immediately denied the allegations against him during the interview with the two officers. He said that Insp Nolan was belligerent and aggressive towards towards him, particularly when he did not get answers he did not like, while Insp Mahon was a gentleman.He was told by both that he would be arrested if he left the station, he claims.
Mr Devane said he had been playing Santa at a school, mainly for adults with disabilities, since 1993.
Under cross-examination by Jim O'Callaghan, for the State, Mr Devane said the complaint against him was part of "a witch hunt". He rejected the suggestion that his claim against the gardai was "manufactured" or "made up."
He said that he was not in the High Court in order to seek compensation but rather was there "to clear his name".
He said Insp Nolan had always held this allegation against him and would not speak to him when they were acting in the same courtroom. Mr Devane added that he still felt like a prisoner each time he saw the inspector.
The case continues.