A detective has gone on trial accused of forging a letter from the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to the investigation of a priest accused of sexual abuse.
Detective Garda Catherine McGowan, aged 48, who is based at Bray Garda Station, has pleaded not guilty 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 on June 21-22, 2011.
The instrument is alleged to have been a letter from the office of the DPP, dated January 14, 2009.
In his opening speech to the jury, Alex Owens, prosecuting, said Gda McGowan forged the letter to “hoodwink” gardaí who were reviewing whether she had acted properly in investigating allegations of the sexual abuse of a teenage girl.
The investigation of Gda McGowan’s handling of the case was prompted by the publication of the Murphy Report, which investigated clerical sexual abuse in the Dublin area. The priest in Gda McGowan’s case was mentioned in the report.
Counsel said the jury will hear evidence of a copy of a letter, supposedly from the DPP, which directed that a prosecution of the priest would be “impossible” because of “conjecture” in the alleged victim’s statement.
“This document is not genuine, it is a bogus document,” Mr Owens said. “It is a copy of an original that never existed.”
Counsel said there will be evidence that Gda McGowan never sent the case file to anyone including the DPP, the chief state solicitor, or her superintendent.
The first witness, Sergeant Diane Swift,
she received statements relating to the abuse case and a photocopy of a letter purporting to be from the office of the DPP.
The trial is scheduled to last two weeks.
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