Garda did not seek to test truth of child’s account of being abused in creche

Specialist interviewer tells defence counsel ‘we are not trained to challenge the children’

A Garda specialist in interviewing children has told the trial of a care worker charged with sexually assaulting four girls in a creche that she did not ask an alleged victim any questions designed to test the truth of her account.  Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times.

A Garda specialist in interviewing children has told the trial of a care worker charged with sexually assaulting four girls in a creche that she did not ask an alleged victim any questions designed to test the truth of her account. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times.

 

A Garda who specialises in interviewing children has told the trial of a care worker charged with sexually assaulting four girls in a creche that she did not ask an alleged victim any questions designed to test the truth of her account.

Garda Louise Curtin told Seán Guerin SC, defending the 29-year-old accused, that she did not recall any questions being raised about the credibility of some of the allegations at a case conference in May 2017.

The allegations first emerged at the Leinster creche in December 2016 when the four complainants were aged between five and eight. In an interview in early January 2017, one child, then aged eight, told Garda Curtin that the care worker touched her “privates” at a number of locations within the creche. She said she did not like this and it “nearly always” hurt her.

The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the complainants, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 23 counts of sexually assaulting four girls on dates between February 2015 and December 2016.

Under cross-examination Garda Curtin previously told the jury that she did not follow some of the “Good Practice” recommendations when interviewing this child.

Garda Curtin also told Mr Guerin that, other than initially establishing that the child understood the difference between truth and lies, she did not ask questions designed to test the truth of the child’s account.

Raise doubts

Mr Guerin put it to her that she had no interest in putting to the child any information that might raise doubts about her account.

She said it was important to give the child the best opportunity to give her account but accepted that best practice was not followed in the phrasing of some questions.

A third child was interviewed by specialist gardaí in late January 2017 and this child said the other two complainants told her that things they said to her about the accused doing sexual things were untrue.

Garda Curtin said she did not recall the question of “the credibility of the allegations” arising and she was never asked to carry out a follow up interview with the child.

“Do you accept that, as a matter of good practice, [the named children] should have been asked whether there was any truth in what [the third child] was saying,” counsel asked.

Garda Curtin replied that this would have to be balanced against the welfare of the children.

Counsel put it to her that “you’d rather just send them off to the circuit court” than to sit them down and ask “a few difficult but necessary questions”.

Garda Curtin told Mr Guerin “we are not trained to challenge the children”.

The trial continues.