False claim about child 'destroyed' garda's life

 

A GARDA falsely accused of interfering with a four-year-old child in her home has been personally destroyed, a senior member of the force has said.

Garda Supt John Moloney was giving evidence against a couple who pleaded guilty to making false allegations that an officer had come to their home, taken down the child’s trousers and caused her to run crying from the room.

He told Portlaoise Circuit Court the allegation was groundless but “spread like wildfire” in a rural area and “destroyed the man in his community”. The couple had chosen that garda, whom they had never met and who had never been in their home, because he had not taken their side in one of a series of squabbles between people in the rural Laois area.

Supt Moloney said the officer had “an impeccable record and an exemplary disciplinary history. He is an excellent community garda in a small station, doing his job.”

While his reputation was untainted in the force, the superintendent could not say that was the case in the community, because “these things don’t go away easy”.

The court heard the girl’s mother feared she would be taken into care after she found blood in her underwear after collecting her from childcare in April 2009. She phoned the childminder, who, concerned for her own standing in the face of a possible child abuse case, reported the matter to the HSE.

It later emerged the blood was due to a urinary tract infection, but the HSE took a keen interest in the girl’s welfare.

In August last year her mother “blurted out” at a HSE meeting that on June 8th the garda arrived in a patrol car. She alleged he walked through the open front door and asked: “What’s all this about an allegation of sexual abuse?” She said he then pulled down the girl’s trousers but not her underwear, looked at her and walked out as she ran away, crying. There was no allegation that he had sexually abused her.

The four-year-old was professionally interviewed but there was no disclosure of interference or of any contact with the garda. At the time of the alleged offence, he had been dealing with an attempted armed raid at a nearby post office.

After an inquiry in which up to 70 statements were taken, the couple were arrested and the woman admitted to gardaí she had made up the story. Her partner continued to uphold the story until his second interview.

The Garda superintendent did not agree with counsel for the defendants that they had tried to undo the damage by telling the truth locally about what occurred.

Judge Anthony Kennedy will continue the sentencing hearing today.