A GARDA superintendent has said that a garda has been personally destroyed by false allegations he interfered with a four-year-old girl.
The girl's mother made up the story to prevent her daughter going into care.
Portlaoise Circuit Court has heard she made up the lie because of her "horrific past" in State institutions.
The child's father also went along with the lie.
Superintendent John Maloney was giving evidence against the couple, who cannot be named to protect the identity of their daughter, after they pleaded guilty to making the false allegations.
They admitted claiming that the officer came to their home and had taken down the girl's trousers, causing her to run crying to her room.
Superintendent Maloney told Portlaoise Circuit Court the allegation was groundless but "spread like wildfire" in their rural Laois area and "destroyed the man in his community".
They had never met the garda, whom the superintendent said had "an impeccable record and an exemplary disciplinary history".
The couple had singled out the garda because he had not taken their side in an argument with others in the area.
The girl's mother panicked after the HSE became involved in her daughter's care.
The woman had already buried a child because of a heart problem and her older daughter had been taken into care more than 10 years ago.
She noticed blood in her child's underwear when she picked her up from childcare in April 2009.
She phoned the child-minder, who then called the HSE because she was fearful for her own reputation in a possible sexual offence investigation.
It was later discovered that the blood was due to a urinary tract infection but monthly meetings followed with the HSE.
At the time of the false allegations, the garda involved had been dealing with an attempted armed robbery.
The four-year-old had not been abused by anyone.
After an investigation was launched, the couple were arrested and the woman immediately admitted she'd made up the story.
"They twisted and turned the truth to minimise the damage on themselves in the community," said the superintendent.
The sentencing hearing continues today.