Tuesday 21 November 2017

Counsellor denies she was part of conspiracy

Sergeant Maurice McCabe at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle yesterday. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins
Sergeant Maurice McCabe at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle yesterday. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A psychologist whose error led to a false report of child sex abuse being made against Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe has denied being part of any conspiracy against him.

Laura Brophy was asked by the chairman of the Disclosures Tribunal, Mr Justice Peter Charleton, if there was any way she could have forwarded the false report deliberately.

She replied: "There is no way I would have done anything like that."

The tribunal is investigating the circumstances surrounding how a false claim of sex abuse was recorded and whether it was subsequently used by senior gardaí to smear Sgt McCabe.

The tribunal had already heard evidence that a report compiled by Ms Brophy, who works for the HSE's Rian counselling service, contained incorrect information regarding a complaint by a woman known as Ms D against Sgt McCabe.

Ms D's allegation was that Sgt McCabe had "dry humped" her when she was six or seven years of age while they were playing hide and seek.

Laura Brophy Picture: Collins
Laura Brophy Picture: Collins

But a report forwarded by Ms Brophy to HSE child protection services in August 2013, which was in turn forwarded to gardaí, contained a more serious allegation, not made by Ms D, that she had been subject to digital penetration, both vaginal and anal.

This appears to have been lifted in error from a report dealing with another client of Ms Brophy, known as Ms Y.

She has been unable to explain how this happened.

Mr Justice Charleton said that around the time the incorrect report was made, Sgt McCabe was the subject of a disciplinary investigation after a computer seized in a child sex abuse case went missing from a Garda evidence room.

Sgt McCabe was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing.

Mr Justice Charleton noted Sgt McCabe had been interviewed about the missing computer in June 2013 and that Ms D's referral to Rian came the following month. He said the erroneous report submitted by Ms Brophy would have supported those in the force who were against Sgt McCabe.

Referring to the timing of events, Mr Justice Charleton said: "Can you appreciate that if you had done something deliberate it would have caused maximum damage?"

Ms Brophy said she did appreciate the magnitude of the situation. "I can see how it would have been catastrophic. I would never have been complicit in anything like that," she said.

Ms Brophy said she was not aware of the investigation into the missing computer.

She also said that there had been no direct contact from gardaí subsequent to the mistake in the report being discovered in May 2014. Ms Brophy said she has no friends or relations in An Garda Síochána.

Ms Brophy said she realised she set in train "an appalling injustice" against Sgt McCabe.

During questioning from Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, it emerged Ms D had been hoping to become a garda herself around the time she was seen by Ms Brophy.

However, Ms D was worried that reporting the alleged abuse would damage her chances of joining the force.

Mr McDowell said that Ms Brophy had a discussion with her supervisor Fiona Ward about some "serious problems" Ms D was facing at the time.

"Those problems would, if they came to notice, have very seriously affected her capacity to be a member of An Garda Síochána," he said.

The exact nature of the problems were not specified by Mr McDowell.

Irish Independent

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