The emotions at heart of Charleton tribunal

At times during her evidence to the Disclosures Tribunal yesterday, the woman known as Ms D was emotional.

Sergeant Maurice McCabe with his wife Lorraine at the The Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Picture: Collins Photos

She daubed her eyes as her voice veered towards cracking. It was obvious the events being discussed brought her pain.

Ms D is the woman who alleged in 2006, when she was 14, that eight years previously, Sergeant Maurice McCabe had touched her inappropriately.

She claimed that during a game of hide and seek in the garda’s house, when both parties were fully clothed, he had rubbed up against her on a couch in a manner she later
described as “humping”.

Ms D’s father, known as Mr D, was a garda colleague of Sgt McCabe’s.

At the tribunal hearings, the allegation has been described in various ways. Tribunal lawyer Patrick Marrinan once characterised it as “horseplay”. Chairman Peter Charleton has referenced it as “the event on the couch, if there was an event on the couch”.

Ms D’s demeanour during yesterday’s evidence suggests she sees it in a much harsher light.

The allegation was investigated and found variously to either have no credibility, not sufficient evidence to merit a prosecution, and not even constituting a criminal offence.

Ms D told the tribunal that, in July 2013, she visited a counsellor as she was having difficulty with Sgt McCabe being in the media as a result of complaints he was making about malpractice in the force. It brought her allegation back to her.

“I began to hear Maurice McCabe’s name being mentioned and if affected me,” she told the tribunal.

By July 2013, Sgt McCabe’s name had not been mentioned on broadcast or print media. He was first publicly identified on January 23, 2014.

Following that counselling session, the counsellor mistakenly labelled the allegation one of child rape. That mistake was not discovered until May 2014.

Ms D said she was extremely angry that the false allegation had been generated. She told
the tribunal that she had not wanted her historic allegation re-referred at all.

In early 2014, Sgt McCabe was causing huge problems for the Government and senior management in the gardaí. Reporters went looking for Ms D, presumably having been tipped off about the eight-year-old allegation.

Ms D gave two interviews to the well-known reporter, Paul Williams.

“Obviously I had a personal grievance against Maurice McCabe for what had occurred in 1998,” she told the tribunal.

“I had tried to deal with it and cope with it until he became a public figure. He was being described as an honourable man… I was upset and angry. I wanted people to know he wasn’t the saint he was being portrayed as.”

She was also perturbed that investigations complained of by Sgt McCabe were being referred to a new inquiry while hers wasn’t. “My case was more serious than some of those ones,” she said.

Her allegation had been investigated in 2006-7. The investigating inspector, the local state solicitor and the DPP all came to the conclusion it didn’t warrant prosecution.

The DPP’s direction stated: “Even if there wasn’t a doubt over her credibility, the incident that she describes does not constitute a sexual assault or indeed an assault.”

By contrast, all of the cases complained of by Sgt McCabe involved criminal offences.

She told Mr Williams that her case had not been properly investigated. In June 2014, she made a complaint to Gsoc about the investigation in 2006-7.

Gsoc found nothing wrong with the 2006-7 investigation.

The tribunal has heard other evidence in relation to this allegation. In the first week, phone notes were referenced of a conversation between the senior garda who investigated the
allegation, Noel Cunningham, and a social worker.

The social worker recorded Mr Cunningham mentioning “credibility issues” and “she’s spinning different stories”.

Ms D also told Williams that Sgt McCabe’s complaints of malpractice had seen “the careers of gardaí ruined”.

She was asked whether this was a reference to her father. In January 2006, 11 months before she made her allegation, Sgt McCabe reported Ms D’s father over an incident that saw Mr D demoted from the crime unit. She said that had nothing to do with her allegation.

The tribunal heard yesterday that, in her statement to Gsoc, Ms D suggested that her father had been told by a colleague that Sgt McCabe was seen “hanging around the girls’ secondary school looked at young ones” in his area.

This is typical of some of the baseless, malicious rumours that had been circulated about Sgt McCabe when he was discommoding garda management.

Ms D’s evidence lasted for over an hour. She obviously found the experience difficult.

Later, Sgt McCabe’s counsel, Michael McDowell, noted to the chairman that he felt constrained as the substance of the allegation was outside the terms of reference. He reiterated that his client’s position is that nothing of the sort which was alleged ever occurred.

Replying, Judge Charleton said that he was constrained in investigating “whether it was a misunderstanding, whether it was false memory”.

Ms D’s demeanour and obvious upset might lead an observer to conclude that her
allegation had a major, lasting impact on her life.

On the first day of evidence, the tribunal heard that in September 2005, 15 months prior to making her allegation, Ms D had been in contact with the child protection services.

This was as a result of her
behaviour at the time, included “sexual behaviour”, and involved an arrest and the preparation of a file for the DPP. This had nothing whatsoever to do with Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Last Friday, social worker Linda Cramer told the tribunal that in February this year — more than a decade after the allegation was made — a decision was taken to delete the information on it from files “because there was no credible allegation there and there were no child protection concerns around Mr McCabe”.

There are obvious differences between the content and tenor of Ms D’s testimony and other elements of evidence about the same issue.


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