independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Victim: ‘I now know he didn’t let my attacker go free’

THE woman taxi driver brutally attacked by Jerry McGrath months before he murdered mother of two Sylvia Roche-Kelly says senior gardai tried to scapegoat garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe for alleged serious mishandling of her assault case.

Mary Lynch, whose complaint is now the focus of a new investigation by the Garda Ombudsman, says Sgt McCabe was named to her by a number of senior officers as the garda responsible for the premature release of McGrath on station bail.

McGrath was released on €300 bail just hours after he had mounted a savage attack on her with distinct sexual connotations, strangulation and false imprisonment and before she could make a statement outlining what she believed to be the murderous intent of her attacker.

She made her statement to gardai just 11 hours after she was attacked and had attended hospital where she received a range of shots, including anti-tetanus and hepatitis shots because McGrath had drawn blood with a savage bite to her shoulder.

By the time her statement was taken, her attacker was already on his way home to his native Tipperary on bail.

And she says Sgt McCabe was also wrongly named by senior officers as being the garda who ordered a junior colleague to phone her to tell her there was no need to attend the court case listed to hear the assault charge because the case was being "put back".

In fact, the case went ahead in her absence and her attacker was given a nine-month sentence after a brief hearing.

Sylvia Roche-Kelly's widower Lorcan will tomorrow begin an action in the High Court in Dublin against the Garda Commissioner, the Minister for Justice and the State for €4m, claiming his wife's death was caused by neglect and default on the part of gardai who dealt with McGrath before her killing.

McGrath was out on bail for the assault on Mrs Lynch when he committed the murder of Sylvia Roche-Kelly and he was also out on bail relating to a separate charge in which he was accused, and subsequently convicted, of the false imprisonment of a five-year-old child he snatched from her bed in Dundrum, Co Tipperary, during a night-time burglary.

Mrs Lynch told the Sunday Independent: "I had spoken to Maurice McCabe because his name was being used as the person who let out Jerry McGrath (on station bail). So I got in contact with Maurice McCabe to find out why he had let out Jerry McGrath on that morning. But Maurice McCabe was not even at work on that morning."

"It was his name that was being used as having let Jerry McGrath out. I had senior gardai come to me after the court case. They had said to me that it was he (McCabe) who had let him out.

"So what I wanted to know then was who was the senior officer who had told the garda to ring me to tell me not to go to the court. His (McCabe's) name was used again. So I don't know what was going on down there."

She said that she now knew definitively that Maurice McCabe was not responsible for either letting out McGrath on bail hours after he assaulted her or for ordering a junior officer to ring her and tell her that the case against her attacker was being "put back" and she did not need to attend court. "I now know it wasn't him (McCabe)."

Mrs Lynch said that there had been a procession of officers from all over the country who had visited her at her home. The first visit came exactly a week after the case against McGrath was heard in a district court. "They came down after I had rang them and told them that I had just contacted the Garda Ombudsman and If I didn't hear back I would go ahead with an investigation against them," she told the Sunday Independent.

When asked how she knew Maurice McCabe was not responsible, she said: "I have definitive proof. I know who actually allowed him out on bail and I know who ordered the garda to ring me to tell me not to attend court. It was not Maurice McCabe. I have had senior officers coming to me supposedly enquiring about my case and it was them who said it was Maurice McCabe.

"On the morning of my attack, Maurice McCabe was not even in the station. When they bandied around his name I tackled Maurice McCabe about it. He told me: 'Mary, I did not and I have proof I did not.'"

She said her complaint to the Garda Ombudsman covered a range of issues relating to the handling of her case.

She said that the charge against McGrath against her was one of simple assault.

"It was not minor assault. It was attempted murder. There was a sexual element. His zip was undone and he (was) shoving my head in that direction. He was strangling me. He held me against my will.

"I want the gardai to admit that they didn't handle my case properly. I want to know why it took six months before my file was given to the DPP."

Sunday Independent

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