Dalkey baby: family say coroner ‘biased’

A DUBLIN County Coroner was “biased” in the conduct of an inquest that resulted in a jury finding that an unidentified dead baby which was found in a laneway in Dun Laoghaire in 1973 was the child of Cynthia Owen, the High Court was told yesterday.

Ms Owen has claimed the baby was conceived following sexual abuse in her family home and was murdered.

A statement made by Ms Owen regarding the alleged birth of a baby in the family home in Dalkey, and of its subsequent murder and disposal by a family member, was “entirely untrue”, Ms Owen’s father and three of her sisters have claimed in proceedings aimed at quashing the inquest verdict.

Ms Owen had not given birth to a child in the family home in 1973 as alleged and did not have a stillborn child at 14 but had made “increasingly wild” allegations against family members of alleged sexual abuse by people living in the locality, her sister Catherine Stevenson said in an affidavit.

Although the DPP had concluded there was insufficient evidence to prosecute anyone for murder of the baby, and members of the family had warned Coroner Dr Kieran Geragthy not to re-open the inquest as it would be “used” by Ms Owen to make allegations, ultimately leading to “a murder trial under the guise of an inquest”, Dr Geraghty had proceeded with the inquest, they said.

However, the coroner had wrongly excluded from the jury a number of conflicting statements made by Ms Owen herself and by other persons whose evidence contradicted that of Ms Owen’s, they claim.

Dr Geraghty was “extremely selective” about the statements the jury were permitted to hear, Nuala Butler SC, for the four applicants, said.

Dr Geraghty, it is claimed, should not have proceeded with the inquest in the absence of a body after he was refused permission by the Minister for Justice to have the body of the baby girl exhumed.

Mr Justice Michael Peart yesterday granted leave to Ms Butler, for Peter Murphy senior and three of Ms Owen’s sisters — Ms Stevenson, Esther Roberts and Margaret Stokes — to bring judicial review proceedings against Dr Geraghty aimed at overturning the jury’s verdict, delivered last February 16.

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