Couple sentenced for falsely accusing garda

 

A COUPLE who falsely accused a garda of interfering with their four-year-old daughter have each been given a suspended jail sentence of three years.

Imposing sentence, Judge Anthony Kennedy described as insidious, persistent and sustained the lie spread by the Laois couple that the garda had interfered with the girl in her home last year.

He said the rumour spread in August 2009 was “impossible to stop”, and they had done nothing to spread the word of the man’s innocence when they were arrested in February 2010.

Portlaoise Circuit Court heard the garda had been personally “destroyed” by the allegation that he had gone to the child’s home and pulled down her trousers. The rumour had “spread like wildfire”, investigating Garda Supt John Moloney said.

The garda was described in court as an excellent community policeman with an impeccable record. He was not known personally to the mother when she “blurted out” his name and the allegation to the Health Service Executive during a family meeting in August last year.

The woman had falsely believed the garda had not taken the couple’s side in a local dispute.

Investigations showed the garda had been investigating an attempted armed robbery at a local post office at the time of the alleged offence.

Counsel for the woman, Catherine Roberts, said the woman had acted out of a deep concern that her daughter would be taken into care by the HSE, which was working with the family.

The lie was an unsophisticated distraction contrived because of her panicked desire to protect her daughter from the abuse she herself suffered in two State institutions between the ages of 7 and 17.

She was now receiving counselling and understood “the terrible wrongness” of taking the garda’s good name. Jail would be a harrowing experience from which the 42-year-old might never recover, she said.

Counsel for the father, Conor Roberts, said he had always sought to support his partner, but in this case had gone too far.

During sentencing, Judge Kennedy referred to information in a probation report that had not been read out in court but which was important for the public to know to understand sentencing.

As a child the woman had been prostituted by a drunken mother and it was no wonder she had carried depression and poor mental health into adulthood, he said.

Her childhood had been “dire” and she had been given “a horribly deprived chance in life”. Her “reduced mental capacity and general ignorance, coupled with [her partner’s] unstinting blind support had combined with a groundless fear that their daughter would be taken into care”, he said.

However, the rumour the couple spread would have been taken as true “not just by the gullible, but by the malicious”.