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Retired Chief Superintendent tells trial 'it wasn't unusual for garda not to be asked to report on progress of clerical abuse probe for four years'

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Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

A retired Chief Superintendent has told the trial of a Garda accused of forgery that it was not unusual for her not to be asked to report on the progress of a clerical abuse investigation for four years.

Wicklow Detective Garda Catherine McGowan (48), who is based at Bray Garda Station, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of forgery on January 15, 2009 at Bray Garda Station and two counts of using a false instrument at Bray Garda Station and at Harcourt Street Garda Station between June 21 and 22, 2011.

The instrument is alleged to have been a letter from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), dated January 14, 2009, directing that there be no prosecution in the clerical abuse case.

Earlier in the trial, Detective Sergeant Eamonn O’Neill testified that he had worked with Gda McGowan on the case on two occasions between 2007 and 2011, but that otherwise he had not enquired about it.

Patrick Marrinan SC, defending, asked retired Chief Supt Thomas Conway if he found it shocking that Gda O’Neill did not ask about such a serious case in that time.

Mr Conway said: “A lot of things in relation to this case shocked me. I wouldn’t say I was shocked by that. If one is assigned an investigation, one would expect that the person assigned would complete the investigation to the required standard.”

Judge Mary Ellen Ring asked Mr Conway if there was any system for auditing cases being dealt with by gardai.  He said that “there should be a system” but that “in this particular case it was closed off after the original 2005 investigation and the new case wasn’t recorded in PULSE. There was an issue relating to that”.

The investigation was paused in 2005 when the alleged victim indicated they did not wish to pursue it. Mr Conway agreed with Mr Marrinan that the original case had not been recorded in the PULSE system either.

He also agreed that 30% of files requested by a Professional Standards Unit investigation (PSU) into the handling of the case could not be found. “There was issue in relation to the PSU investigation, I acknowledge that,” he said.     

Detective Inspector Frank Keenaghan previously testified that Mr Conway told him to investigate the letter on July 5 2011 and that he met with Gda McGowan on July 6. Mr Marrinan repeatedly asked Mr Conway if he and Keenaghan had talked about this meeting.

He said that he spoke with Det Insp Keenaghan on July 6th, but said that he had “no recollection” of them discussing his conversation with Gda McGowan.

The court also heard that a letter from the Dublin Archdiocese inquiring about the status of the investigation was forwarded from Conway’s office to the Superintendent in Bray Garda Station to be dealt with, but that there was no record of the letter in Bray Garda Station, and that no-one replied to the letter.

Mr Conway told Alex Owens SC, prosecuting, that he asked Gda McGowan for a copy of the case file in June 2011 following a request from Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney, and that she presented it to him on June 24. It included the alleged forged letter which he found to be of poor quality.

“I instructed her to go and get a better copy, because there were lots of blobs in it,” he said.

The trial continues before Judge Mary Ellen Ring and a jury of six men and six women.

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