Ex-garda ‘didn’t think to get phone records’

Woman claims she was assaulted and falsely imprisoned in squad car in 2001

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill: what Thomas Noonan said about disputing meeting the woman was “an extraordinary thing”. Photograph: Frank Miller

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill: what Thomas Noonan said about disputing meeting the woman was “an extraordinary thing”. Photograph: Frank Miller

Sat, Mar 29, 2014, 01:00

A retired garda alleged to have sexually assaulted a woman in a patrol car has told the High Court he had not thought to obtain his phone records for the relevant time to help establish an alibi he was at home on a meal break when the incident allegedly occurred.

Thomas Noonan (60) is being sued by Antoinette Canty (33) over alleged assault and false imprisonment in the car in Listowel, Co Kerry, on March 16th, 2001.*

Yesterday, Mr Noonan said he “did not particularly” think he should have retrieved copies of his bills to show he made a call from his home phone to a colleague. That colleague was also at home on a meal break and the purpose of the call was to arrange for them to meet up again, he said.

It was claimed this would have established beyond doubt he could not have been at a location miles away where the alleged assault occurred.

In her action against Mr Noonan and the State for damages, Ms Canty claims the then garda gave her a lift in his patrol car. She claims he put his hand on her upper thigh and tried to “get on” her.


Liability
Mr Noonan denies the claims, while the State pleads it has no liability because he breached prohibitions on carrying a civilian in the patrol car. A Garda investigation into the alleged assault was carried out and the DPP decided not to prosecute, the court has been told.

Mr Noonan told the court he brought a woman, who had drink taken, from a chip shop in the town in his patrol car to the nearby Garda station so her mother could be called to take her home as there were no cabs around at the time.

Yesterday, Mr Noonan disputed that Ms Canty was the same woman whom he had told the court he encountered a number of times on the night of the alleged incident.

When Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill told Mr Noonan this was “an extraordinary thing” to say at this stage of the case, Mr Noonan said he doubted Ms Canty was actually the woman he had dealt with.

The judge said Mr Noonan was effectively now saying this was a fraudulent claim.


Evidence
If Mr Noonan was right, the court had spent seven days on evidence there were two blond ladies with red tops and blue jeans around about the centre of Listowel involved in incidents, the judge told Mr Noonan.

“And, lo and behold, somebody turns up here as the plaintiff, masquerading, it would seem, as Ms Canty.”

Mr Noonan, representing himself, replied: “There were two similar girls.”

The judge adjourned the case to the afternoon when Richard Lyons SC, for the State, put to Mr Noonan he could have cleared up this matter immediately after the incident by telling investigators his wife and daughter had heard him come home for his break. Mr Noonan said he had not done so then because that was “a matter for a later stage”. He was advised by his solicitor to “just deny” the allegation, he added.


Phone records
He said he tried to get his phone records from his provider but not until 2009 because he did not know about Ms Canty’s civil case until then.

Asked had he not thought to get the records for an internal garda inquiry into the matter in 2004/2005, he replied: “I did not particularly.”

He disputed a claim he had been served with a summons in relation to Ms Canty’s case in March 2004. He agreed he had written a letter shortly after the incident, saying: “This girl has made untrue and scurrilous allegations against me.”

Earlier, under cross-examination by John Punch SC, for Ms Canty, he denied a suggestion that, during his meal break, he had been looking around for Ms Canty.

*This article was amended on March 29th 2014 .