Friday 18 October 2019

Computer seized from priest in sex abuse case is missing

TAKEN: Fr Molloy, whose PC disappeared from garda custody
TAKEN: Fr Molloy, whose PC disappeared from garda custody

A computer seized from a priest who was involved in a sex abuse case in 2007 is missing from garda custody.

Last month, an investigation cleared a garda whistleblower in respect to the computer's loss.

He and his wife told the Sunday Independent last week that "the annoyance and distress caused to our family (by the investigation) has been enormous and has taken its toll". They declined to comment further on the case.

The whistleblower was never a member of the investigating team that seized the computer and has claimed all along that he was not responsible for it.

He was referred to last week in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General who had met him and whose annual report underlines the whistleblower's concerns about revenue loss due to issues with the penalty points system.

On September 14, 2007, a team of gardai acting under warrant seized the computer hard-drive from the accused priest at his parochial house in Co Cavan.

It is understood that a revised garda list of exhibits drawn up in July 2009 did not include this exhibit. Gardai did not establish its whereabouts at that time.

Later in 2009, Fr Michael Molloy pleaded guilty to two sample charges of defilement of a boy in his early teens and one of possession of child pornography (on his phone). He had secretly filmed his abuse of the youth yet falsely claimed when arrested that his victim was "a liar" and "fantasist".

A disciplinary investigation relating to the loss of the computer began early in 2012, more than two years after Fr Molloy went to jail, and the whistleblower was later questioned as part of that probe.

In 2012 the whistleblower had his first discussion with the Confidential Recipient about alleged abuses of the penalty points system. The Confidential Recipient is appointed by the Minister for Justice to receive complaints from garda whistleblowers.

The whistleblower made a formal complaint to the Confidential Recipient in May 2012. In July 2012 he provided information to the Comptroller and Auditor General.

In 2007 he had been stationed at the local garda station in which the investigating team in Fr Molloy's case was based, but was not a member of that team.

A spokesman for the diocese of Kilmore has told the Sunday Independent that when it sought to get back the computer for normal parish business, gardai indicated to the diocese that it could not be found.

Soon after attending a child protection course, Fr Molloy had begun to abuse the son of a friend.

Asked was the priest's computer and/or hard-drive ever sent out of Cavan by gardai for further examination, (and if so, when and to where), a garda spokesman said last week: "We do not comment on individual cases or investigations." They added: "If any person wishes to highlight any factor pertaining to a garda investigation they can contact the Garda Ombudsman's office."

They gave the same answer when asked if the DPP was informed of the existence of the computer and/or hard-drive before Fr Molloy was convicted, and when asked to say what other investigations have taken place to locate this computer and/or hard-drive since 2007.

- Colum Kenny

Sunday Independent

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