Wednesday 20 November 2019

Ms D's family twice confronted Maurice McCabe after he was cleared of sexual assault allegation

Maurice McCabe at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Collins
Maurice McCabe at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Collins
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

SERGEANT Maurice McCabe was confronted twice by members of Ms D’s family after a garda investigation cleared him of a sexual assault allegation she had made.

The Disclosures Tribunal heard that on one occasion he was confronted Sgt McCabe retreated upstairs in his garda station to avoid any trouble.

In a letter dated February 25, 2008 to Superintendent Michael Clancy, who was the district officer for Bailieborough, Co Cavan, Sgt McCabe referred to the incidents.

An investigation was subsequently launched.

The tribunal heard the letter contained “serious allegations” against Ms D’s father, who was a garda colleague of Sgt McCabe.

Supt Noel Cunningham, who was then an inspector, was instructed to investigate the issues raised in Sgt McCabe’s letter.

He told the tribunal he did not believe it was appropriate to appoint him, as he knew both Sgt McCabe and Mr D well, but said he didn’t raise an objection.

Supt Cunningham had also been the officer who investigated the sexual assault allegation made by Ms D against Sgt McCabe in 2006.

Michael McDowell SC told the tribunal Sgt McCabe had been asked to write the letter by Supt Clancy.

At the time he was concerned that Ms D’s family may not have been given a full account of the DPP’s directions in 2007, following the sexual assault investigation, which were that no criminal offence had been described.

Mr McDowell said Sgt McCabe had not wanted an investigation launched against Mr D.

However, Supt Cunningham said the allegations made were “quasi criminal”.

“The organisation couldn’t ignore such serious allegations,” he said.

The tribunal was told that when Supt Cunningham met him to deal with the allegations that Sgt McCabe talked about anything but the claims.

Mr McDowell said Sgt McCabe was experiencing interpersonal difficulties in the garda station at the time.

The purpose of his letter to Supt Clancy was to secure the release of the DPP’s directions to him and the D family in the hope that while the difficulties might not disappear, they would at least be reduced, Mr McDowell said.

Supt Cunningham agreed that Sgt McCabe wanted the directions released to the D family, but said that in doing so “he raised the spectre of very serious allegations against Mr D”.

The tribunal heard that Sgt McCabe went on sick leave around this time and was subsequently transferred to Mullingar Garda Station soon afterwards.

Mr McDowell said the tribunal had previously heard evidence Ms D had told a counsellor, Laura Brophy, that Sgt McCabe had been “forced out” of the garda station.

Supt Cunningham said Sgt McCabe had made complaints against a number of members still serving in the Bailieborough District.

He said he believed Sgt McCabe took the transfer “to accommodate the investigation” of these complaints.

He also said Sgt McCabe had stepped down as sergeant in charge of the garda station “of his own volition”.

Supt Cunningham said he had tried to change Sgt McCabe’s mind about this.

While conducting the investigation arising from the letter to Supt Clancy, Supt Cunningham said he was in contact with Sgt McCabe in Mullingar and found him to be under a lot of stress and pressure.

He said he offered him advice on garda welfare supports available to members of the force.

On Wednesday the tribunal heard Supt Cunningham believed Sgt McCabe “had an input” into a series of complaints against him in the years which followed the sexual assault investigation.

But he denied these complaints prompted him not to respond to an August 2013 letter from HSE/Tusla official Keara McGlone seeking clarification about an incorrect allegation of sexual abuse included on a Tusla file.

He insisted he had been on leave when the letter arrived and had been very busy with other matters when he eventually read it. He said he had intended to give it attention but forgot to do so.

Asked by Michéal P O’Higgins SC, counsel for the Garda Commissioner and other senior gardaí, if he had made a deliberate decision not to respond to the letter so it would “cause an earthquake in the HSE”, he replied: “Absolutely not.”

In response to further questions, he said he was not instructed by then Commissioner Martin Callinan, then Deputy Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, then Garda press officer Supt Dave Taylor, or any senior garda to omit responding to the letter.

He also said he had “absolutely not” taken part in any smear campaign against Sgt McCabe.

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