Dalkey baby story 'very credible'


Two clinical psychologists who treated the woman who claims that as a child in south Dublin in 1973 she gave birth to a baby who was then murdered have told an inquest her story of sexual abuse and murder is "very credible" and "truthful and coherent".

Dr Dawn Henderson, a clinical psychologist for the National Health Service (NHS) in Wales, said yesterday that the woman had relayed details of "satanic abuse" and a "paedophile ring".

Dr Henderson was giving evidence at an inquest into the death of an unidentified infant found murdered in a laneway in Dún Laoghaire 34 years ago. The inquest was reopened in 2005 after Cynthia Owen had come forward claiming to have been the mother of the infant.

Dr Henderson treated Ms Owen in Wales from 2001 to 2004 and said she had "no doubt whatsoever" about the truthfulness of her allegations. "It's a horrific history of abuse. The worst account I've ever heard." The inquest heard Dr Henderson specialises in the area of sexual abuse involving children.

"Cindy is not mentally ill. In my opinion, she's responding in a very normal way to very abnormal and horrific childhood experiences . . . Cindy's account of abuse and her daughter's death is very truthful and coherent," she told the court.

She said it was not unusual that Ms Owen did not always remember all the details of her alleged abuse and the murder of her child when she was aged 11 because children often store away memories to deal with trauma.

Dr Henderson said that after hearing Ms Owen recount details of satanic abuse and a paedophile ring, she had "concerns for some of the children who may have contact with these men . . . It's perfectly well known that groups of people get together to carry out offences against children."

Dr Henderson said she saw "no indication" that Ms Owen was suffering from false memory syndrome. "I don't have any doubt about the birth, death and disposal of her daughter. I'm convinced of the truth of the main event." Dr Henderson said she used "cognitive behaviour therapy" when treating Ms Owen and at no time used "regression therapy," which she said has been widely discredited.

Fred Lowe, a retired principal clinical psychologist formerly based in south Dublin, first treated Ms Owen at the request of gardaí in 1995 when she first came forward claiming to be the mother of the murdered infant.

He used "normal recall" psychology methods when treating Ms Owen. "The recall of her baby's birth was so vivid and accurate it was a genuine recall." He said Ms Owen was put under hypnosis by a colleague, and her account of events remained the same. "She clearly had a disturbing childhood in a dysfunctional family."