A detective denied in interview that she forged a letter from the Director of Public Prosecutions to cover up the fact that she had failed to complete a clerical sex abuse investigation.
Wicklow Detective Garda Catherine McGowan (aged 48), who is based at Bray Garda Station, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of forgery on January 15, 2009 at Bray Garda Station and two counts of using a false instrument at Bray Garda Station and at Harcourt Street Garda Station between June 21 and 22, 2011.
The instrument is alleged to have been a letter from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), dated January 14, 2009, directing that there be no prosecution in a clerical abuse case.
The letter read: “Dear Sir, I [illegible] to yours. In [illegible] the statement of the complainant…could not possibly form the basis of a prosecution given that the complainant’s allegation of rape is only conjecture.”
The investigation of Gda McGowan’s handling of the case was prompted by the publication of the Murphy Report which investigated the response of church and state authorities to clerical sexual abuse in the Dublin area.
The priest in Gda McGowan’s case was one of the clerics mentioned in the report.
On day 10 of the trial the jury heard transcripts of interviews read by prosecuting counsel Alex Owens SC in which Gda McGowan repeatedly denied forging the letter.
She insisted she forwarded the relevant file to the DPP for it to rule on whether charges should be brought against the priest.
She also denied producing a fraudulent response from a DPP official directing that there be no prosecution.
Gda McGowan further denied being related to the priest at the centre of the investigation. The jury has already heard from the prosecution that they are not related.
Investigators put it to her that she had “ample opportunity” to forge the letter.
They alleged that she combined parts of several other documents, including a letter from the DPP relating to a different case, and photocopied them together to make the fake letter.
“I would never do such a thing”, Gda McGowan replied.
Her interviewers put it to her that she forged the letter “in an effort to hide your failure to complete the investigation.” She denied this.
They also put it to the accused that her alleged actions in not sending a file to the DPP could have “exposed others to sexual abuse” by the priest.
The trial continues before Judge Mary Ellen Ring and a jury of six men and six women.