Friday 24 November 2017

Garda colleague identified McCabe as alleged abuser of his daughter - tribunal

Sgt.Maurice McCabe. Photo: Tom Burke
Sgt.Maurice McCabe. Photo: Tom Burke
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A garda colleague of whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe identified him to a social worker as the alleged abuser of his young daughter.

The Disclosures Tribunal has been told by Tusla social worker Rhona Murphy that Sgt McCabe was named by the father of a girl known as Ms D.

The tribunal is investigating the circumstances surrounding a false allegation of sexual abuse against Sgt McCabe and whether it was subsequently used by senior gardaí to smear the whistleblower.

Ms Murphy, the first witness to be heard by the tribunal, was an intake social worker involved in the HSE’s child protection team in Cavan.

She told the tribunal she was allocated the case of a 14-year-old girl, known as Ms D, in 2005.

Ms D’s parents had been concerned she was running away from home and engaging in sexual activity.

Under examination from tribunal counsel Kathleen Leader BL, Ms Murphy said Ms D’s mother had called saying her daughter had made a complaint about "a man".

She said the complaint was that during a game in the house of the man, the man held her over the sofa. Everyone was fully clothed, but there was an allegation "humping" occurred.

The incident was said to have happened when Ms D was six or seven.

Ms D subsequently made a statement to gardaí on December 6, 2006.

Ms Murphy said a meeting of a HSE social worker team was convened and it was agreed to refer Ms D’s case to the HSE’s child sexual abuse (CSA) team.

During the course of a subsequent meeting with Ms D and her parents, the girl’s father identified Maurice McCabe as the person against whom the allegation was being made, Ms Murphy said.

Ms D was asked at the meeting if she would be happy for a copy of her statement to go to the CSA team so she would not have to go through the detail again. The girl said she was happy for this to happen.

Ms Murphy told the tribunal that Noel Cunningham, a garda inspector in the Cavan/Monaghan division, would have provided the team with a copy directly.

She said she was also aware Ms D’s father had a copy of the statement.

Ms Murphy said that on December 14, 2006 she sent handwritten notes to members of the CSA team, Emer O’Neill and Orla Curran.

Ms Leader said it appeared that the notes were intended to be shared with Inspector Cunningham, as there was a note attached saying: “FAO Noel Cunningham”.

But Ms Murphy said she had no recollection of sending any documentation herself to the inspector.

She said there was phone contact with Insp Cunningham in April 2007 in relation to him sending the girl’s statement.

The tribunal heard documents show that the same month Ms D informed the CSA team that Sgt McCabe had inappropriately touched her.

There was also a note that a file had been sent to the DPP, but a prosecution was not recommended.

Ms Murphy said she closed the file on Ms D in October 2007 and sent letters to two of her superiors about this decision.

The letters noted that Sgt McCabe had not been met by the social worker team.

She told the tribunal it was intended he be met by social workers from Meath as Sgt McCabe acted as a liaison officer with the HSE in Cavan/Monaghan.

She said it was “fair procedure” for an alleged perpetrator to be made aware of an allegation of sexual abuse against them. Such meetings would also be arranged in the context of making a child protection risk assessment.

Ms Murphy said Sgt McCabe “should have been met” by a team from Meath, but was unaware if this happened.

Michael McDowell SC, counsel for Sgt McCabe, said no such meeting ever took place.

He also said that Sgt McCabe was not a designated liaison officer.

Conor Dignam SC, for An Garda Síochána, said it would be the force’s evidence that Sgt McCabe was not a liaison officer.

Ms Murphy said she had believed he was a liaison officer as there had been contact with him in relation to a number of cases previously.

Under questioning, she confirmed no assessment of Ms D’s credibility was ever made by the CSA team.

Ms Murphy said this was “because they felt that putting the young person through the finer detail of that allegation would be to the detriment of the young person”.

She said it was not unusual of her to close a file when there was outstanding work to be done.

She said her responsibility was solely in relation to Ms D.

“No other concerns were received. Therefore the case was closed,” she said.

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