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Wednesday 27 August 2014

GSOC takes full control of probe into brutal rape of young girl

Ralph Riegel

Published 20/04/2014 | 02:30

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New Deputy Commissioner of An Garda Siochana Noirin O'Sullivan. Photo: Collins
New Deputy Commissioner of An Garda Siochana Noirin O'Sullivan. Photo: Collins

The Garda Ombudsman has taken full control of a controversial investigation into the case of a young girl who was brutally raped by a neighbour at knifepoint when she was just 10 years old.

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The Sunday Independent has learned that the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has instructed its own investigators to probe the shocking case, instead of garda officers acting on its behalf.

The mother of the victim, who is now 18, insists that failings in the original garda probe into allegations made in 2005, 2006 and 2011 contributed to the Director of Public Prosecution's decision not to sanction criminal charges.

The middle-aged man at the centre of the allegations, a neighbour of the child and her family, has never been prosecuted.

It is alleged that he raped the child at knifepoint and threatened her family if she told anyone about what happened.

The child's mother was appalled when no prosecution was taken – and later levelled complaints about how both the gardai and the Health Service Executive (HSE) dealt with the case.

"We are not going away. No matter how long it takes we want to know what happened and why no prosecution was taken over what was done to my little girl," the mother told the Sunday Independent.

The mother and daughter were at the centre of a hard-hitting Ombudsman for Children (OFC) report last year, which slated the HSE for its handling of the case.

The victim said that she feels her treatment by the HSE and, in particular, the gardai was almost worse than the original rape itself.

"Not being believed was almost worse than the rape. It was absolutely soul destroying. It was as if somehow I didn't matter or what happened didn't matter," the victim said.

The Sunday Independent has learned that, on the basis of material in the garda case files, GSOC has now upgraded the probe to a Section 95 inquiry under the Garda Siochana Act (2005).

This type of investigation takes place "into conduct which may amount to a breach of discipline under Schedule 5 of the Garda Siochana Act but which does not appear to constitute a criminal offence".

The probe will now be handled by a senior GSOC investigator and his report will be forwarded to acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan.

Section 95 findings can vary from no action being taken through to operational advice to the gardai involved or, in the most serious cases, to mandatory retirement or dismissal.

A garda spokesman said they are unable to comment on the matter given that it is the subject of an ongoing GSOC investigation.

However, the Sunday Independent understands that gardai vehemently dispute several of the key complaints.

Gardai insist that all officers made themselves available to the GSOC inquiry and all relevant case documentation was provided.

A delay did occur in relation to one file but this was complicated by the fact that further allegations were made since the initial complaint was lodged.

Further, two senior gardai who conducted a probe on GSOC's behalf reviewed the allegations and found there was no case to answer.

However, GSOC was not satisfied and ordered further inquiries.

The victim and her mother are also upset that gardai failed to inform them directly that the DPP would not be taking any criminal action against the victim's alleged rapist.

Notification came in a letter to the mother's solicitor – but she had already heard the shocking news via a third party.

"It is like a never ending nightmare for us. I am so, so angry. They wonder why victims are so reluctant to come forward and report abuse. This is exactly why," the distraught mother said.

The family has since relocated over 130km away from the man at the centre of the rape allegations for safety reasons.

Sunday Independent

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