Clockwise from top left: Supt Leo McGinn; Chief Superintendent James (Jim) Sheridan and journalist Paul Williams
At the Disclosures Tribunal.
Journalist Paul Williams last week gave evidence about four articles he wrote pertaining to Ms D and the allegation she had made against Sgt Maurice McCabe in 2006 – without naming either Ms D or Sgt McCabe.
Readers will recall a letter sent from the DPP’s office to the then State solicitor for Cavan Rory Hayden on April 5, 2007, in relation to Ms D’s complaint stated:
“The incident as described by the injured party is vague… 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. Further, the account given to her cousin [redacted] differs in a number of respects to that given to her parents and the Guards.”
Mr Williams’ articles were published on April 12, 15, 16 and May 3, 2014.
Readers will note that, during the timespan of these articles, on April 29, 2014, Ms D emailed the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) claiming her allegation of sexual assault was not properly investigated and, a day later, on April 30, 2014, she met Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin in the Dáil.
Mr William flagged Ms D’s desire to make a complaint to GSOC and to meet Mr Martin in his earlier articles.
Readers may wish to note that when Ms D did eventually give a statement to GSOC, on July 3, 2014, Ms D told GSOC that Mr Williams told her senior members of An Garda Siochana and in the Government were aware of her allegations.
When asked about this, Mr Williams said it was a “throwaway remark” that the then head of the Garda Press Office Supt Dave Taylor said to him and that he later relayed it to Ms D.
Under cross-examination from Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, it was put to Mr Williams that he was going as close as he possibly could “to identifying Sergeant McCabe without using his name as the alleged perpetrator of this abuse” and that that was what he intended to do.
Mr William rejected the claim.
Further to this…
May 2014 saw a significant amount of activity surrounding a Tusla referral which contained an incorrect claim that a daughter of a sergeant, referred to as Ms D, was accusing Sgt Maurice McCabe of rape.
And, bizarrely, as the incorrect claim of rape was being passed further and further up the chain of command in An Garda Siochana – and, critically, being presented as a real allegation – the allegation wrongly attached to Ms D’s Tusla file was simultaneously being uncovered as being utterly unrelated to Ms D or Sgt McCabe elsewhere.
And yet it continued to climb upwards.
In the background, the Department of Justice and An Garda Siochana were in something of a crisis.
The then Justice Minister Alan Shatter was resigning and Sean Guerin SC was recommending that a Commission of Investigation be established to examine allegations of Garda misconduct in the Cavan/Monaghan area, allegations made by Sgt McCabe.
The activity started on Wednesday, April 30, 2014, when Tusla social worker Laura Connolly randomly plucked a contaminated file on Sgt McCabe from a filing cabinet in Tusla’s offices in Cavan.
Ms Connolly, unknowingly, breathed new life into the false rape allegation when she combined a 2006 allegation of “humping” during a game of hide and seek and a 2013 allegation of rape wholly unrelated to either Ms D or Sgt McCabe, and had a referral containing the rape allegation sent to Baileboro Garda Station on Friday, May 2, 2014.
The false allegation of rape was originally created, also unknowingly, by RIAN counsellor Laura Brophy when Ms Brophy, after counselling sessions with Ms D, sent what she thought was the 2006 claim to Tusla in August 2013.
Readers will recall the 2006 complaint had already been sent to Tusla back in 2006/2007. It had been investigated by Superintendent Noel Cunningham, sent to the DPP and the DPP, as mentioned above, found it had no foundation in April 2007.
On Wednesday, May 7, 2014, Supt Leo McGinn, the district officer in Bailieboro, then took up the baton from Ms Connolly when he, also unknowingly, kept the rape allegation alive by, immediately on receipt of Ms Connolly’s referral, writing a letter to Chief Superintendent James (Jim) Sheridan with Ms Connolly’s referral attached.
It was May 6, 2014, a day before Supt McGinn received Ms Connolly’s referral, when Mr Guerin SC made his recommendation of a Commission of Investigation while it was May 7, 2014, that Minister Alan Shatter resigned.
In his letter to Chief Supt Sheridan, which didn’t actually leave Supt McGinn’s office until the following day, Thursday, May 8, 2014, Supt McGinn wrote:
“In light of the referral received on foot of Ms. D’s disclosure to a professional, I feel it is appropriate to have the [2006/2007] investigation reviewed.”
“I suggest that the file and investigation in its entirety be reviewed at officer level within An Garda Síochána or that it be referred to the Cold Case Unit, NBCI. In any case, if a review of the case is to be conducted, I suggest it be conducted external of personnel within Cavan-Monaghan division.”
Supt McGinn said, once he got the referral, he acted swiftly without consulting anyone about his actions or even examining the investigation file.
He sent the original referral to Chief Supt Sheridan but also made and kept a copy of the referral.
When giving evidence to the tribunal, Supt McGinn was asked about his understanding of the 2006 investigation at this time. He said:
“Nothing other than a sexual assault. I didn’t know the gravity of it, the extent of the investigation. I knew that an allegation had been made that it had been investigated by Noel Cunningham, a file to the DPP, no prosecution, and I took it that was it.”
Supt McGinn said he had two reasons for recommending to Chief Supt Sheridan that the matter be reviewed.
The first reason was because he believed it was inappropriate that Supt Cunningham carried out the 2006 investigation. Supt McGinn – who started working in Baileboro in May 2013 – didn’t approve of Supt Cunningham’s involvement as Supt Cunningham knew both Sgt McCabe and Mr D at the time of the 2006 investigation.
Supt McGinn told the tribunal:
“…it came to my ears in Bailieboro that it had been investigated by a local officer… Even what came to my ears was, it would have been better had it been investigated by somebody totally independent of the division.”
Asked who “put it to” his ears, Supt McGinn said:
“Just, look, around Bailieboro station. Some said — I was told Noel Cunningham was investigating it. Who — I don’t know who told me that, or who mentioned it to me. Even the commonly-held view in Bailieboro was, by Bailieboro Gardaí, it should have been investigated from outside the division or to speak of the district.”
Under cross-examination from Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, Supt McGinn was asked if it came to his ears via the mouth of Mr D.
Supt McGinn admitted it was possible but that he didn’t think it was the case and had no recollection of having a conversation about Mr Cunningham investigating his daughter’s complaint.
As for the second reason for Supt McGinn’s decision to refer the matter, he said:
“The second reason was, at that time, the media, Sergeant McCabe was being mentioned, and the Guerin, I don’t know if he had completed it at that stage, but the Guerin Inquiry was ongoing, files were being reviewed. I thought, if that be the case, it was attracting so much attention, if we were going to a tribunal down the road, to have all matters concerning the Gardaí reviewed.”
Asked if he was aware of Mr Guerin’s recommendation of a Commission of Investigation on May 6, 2014, Supt McGinn told the tribunal:
“I may have known at that stage. I don’t know.”
Asked if he was aware of Minister Shatter’s resignation on May 7 – the day he wrote his letter to Chief Supt Sheridan, Supt McGinn said:
“I am sure I would have watched the nine o’clock news. But when I was writing that, was I aware of Mr. Shatter resigning? I don’t know. Possibly unlikely, for the simple reason I don’t have a radio in my office.”
In any event.
A few days later, it was then Chief Supt Sheridan’s turn to keep the rape allegation alive when he forwarded Supt McGinn’s correspondence on to Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny on Wednesday, May 14, 2014.
Except this time, Chief Supt Sheridan knew the referral contained a wrong allegation of rape and chose not to inform the Asst Commissioner of this fact.
Readers should note that Chief Supt Sheridan was the liaison officer with responsibility for giving documents to Sean Guerin SC pertaining to the Cavan/Monaghan area and so had read the file regarding the investigation into Ms D’s 2006 – before he made the decision to give that file to Mr Guerin in March 2014, a decision, he told they tribunal, that he made without speaking to any of his superiors.
In addition, Chief Supt Sheridan told they tribunal that Supt McGinn had told him that Mr D said the rape allegation was incorrect before he wrote his letter on May 14, 2014. Chief Supt Sheridan told the tribunal that he believed Supt McGinn imparted to Chief Supt Sheridan the information he got from Mr D on May 13, 2014.
In contrast, Supt McGinn told they tribunal he had no recollection of speaking to Chief Supt Sheridan about the referral.
In any event.
While giving evidence last week, Chief Supt Sheridan repeatedly said that, in hindsight, perhaps he should have made it clear to Asst Comm Kenny that the rape allegation was incorrect but, he insisted, he was trying to establish how the error got in there in the first place.
In his letter Mr Sheridan attached the referral with the unrelated digital penetration error and said the “the allegations contained in the attached referral have been the subject of a previous Garda investigation” which resulted in the DPP directing that there be no prosecution against Sgt Maurice McCabe.
This was untrue as the allegations contained in the referral didn’t pertain to either Sgt McCabe or Ms D.
He also stated that it was his understanding that Ms D had made complaints, based on the allegations set out in the attached referral, to Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin and GSOC.
This was also untrue as, again, the allegations contained in the referral didn’t pertain to either Sgt McCabe or Ms D.
Asked about his knowledge of Ms D’s complaint to GSOC, and if he had received an official notification of the same, Supt Sheridan told the tribunal he knew of the complaints based on media reports and he couldn’t recollect any official notification from GSOC.
This would indicate that Mr McDowell was correct in asserting that some people, namely gardai, did identify Ms D and Sgt McCabe as the people whom Mr Williams was writing about.
Meanwhile, in a case of bizarre symmetry, Wednesday, May 14, 2014 was not just the day that the false rape allegation reached the upper echelons of An Garda Siochana, it was also the very same day that Ms D contacted RIAN counsellor Laura Brophy to tell her she had made an error in her referral to Tusla in August 2013.
Readers will recall how Ms D has told the tribunal that, after she was notified of the incorrect referral by her father, Ms D believes she rang Ms Brophy to inform her of the error but said she doesn’t have “full recollection” of that call.
She said she knows she told the tribunal’s investigators that she didn’t have contact with Ms Brophy but that she’s seen documentation and notes by Ms Brophy with details of phone calls that they shared after Ms D informed her of the error.
Readers will recall that the tribunal has already heard evidence from Ms Brophy that she had two phone calls with Ms D on May 14, 2014 and then another phonecall on May 16, 2014
The May 16 phone call was in respect of the stated knowledge of the superintendent in Baileboro Garda Station – Supt Leo McGinn.
Ms D said:
“I’m not saying I didn’t but I don’t remember those calls. I don’t recall speaking with her. She said she has notes. I can’t say I didn’t but I don’t recall making those calls myself. I don’t disagree with her but I don’t recall what was said.”
Readers may wish to note that, after Supt McGinn got Ms Connolly’s referral on May 7, 2014 he told the tribunal that it’s “most likely” he showed a copy of the referral to Ms D’s father, Mr D, the following day, on May 8, 2014.
Supt McGinn and Mr D’s offices were next to each other in Baileboro Garda Station at the time and, according to Mr D, he would have been in Supt McGinn’s office “half a dozen times a day” at the time.
Last week at the tribunal, Diarmuid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, asked Supt McGinn if he also showed Mr D the letter he was sending to, or had already sent, to Chief Supt Sheridan in which he recommended that a review of the matter be carried out.
Supt McGinn said:
“I don’t know if it was attached to that statement. Look at, it would have been the one file, we’ll call it, referral, plus my minute would be on it, probably stapled to it at that stage. I have absolutely no difficulty in him seeing what I had set out in my minute.”
Readers will recall that Mr D has already given evidence of how Supt McGinn showed him the referral, containing the rape allegation, in “early May”. Mr D said he was shocked by the rape allegation contained in the referral but didn’t say anything to Supt McGinn about it at that point as he wanted to speak to Ms D about it.
Mr D told the tribunal that he couldn’t recall if he spoke to Ms D that evening or the next morning about the allegation of rape but that, when he did speak to her, he was relieved when she told him it was untrue.
However, Mr D couldn’t give the tribunal a date as to when he went back to Supt McGinn and told him the referral was wrong. He said:
“I don’t remember. I recall I would have contacted Supt McGinn and told him it was incorrect.”
Asked again when he told Supt McGinn this, Mr D said: “I don’t remember.” However, he said: “I remember speaking to Leo McGinn and saying it’s an almighty cock-up.”
Similarly, Supt McGinn also has difficulty in remembering when Mr D came back to him and told him that the referral contained a wrong allegation of rape.
Supt McGinn referred to his journal and told the tribunal that Mr D was on annual leave on May 7 and that he was in the station on May 8 and May 9.
Mr D was on “rest days” on May 10 and May 11 and was then back in the station on Monday, May 12.
Supt McGinn was in the station all day on May 12 and, on this day, he and Mr D would have attended a weekly accountability meeting.
Supt McGinn told Mr McGuinness:
“I’m not sure of specific day or date, but he returned to me and said, what I remember was, he said spoken to Ms. D, and that — I don’t know his exact words, but certainly there was a dispute that, perhaps we could call it the inflated version, was wholly incorrect.”
Asked if, upon telling him it was incorrect, if Mr D asked Supt McGinn to “do anything about it”, Supt McGinn said:
“No. I think before he had a chance to ask me, I used an expletive and said I would ring them [Tusla or the HSE].”
Supt McGinn told the tribunal that he did ring but “to this day” he doesn’t know who he spoke to when he rang to say the referral was incorrect.
Supt McGinn took no note of the phonecall.
The tribunal has already heard that RIAN counsellor Laura Brophy made a note of the two phone calls she says she received from Ms D on May 14, 2014.
The first was at around 10.40am and Ms Brophy noted:
“Client contacted me to inform me that there was an error on the retrospective report I had submitted to the social services in Cavan. I saw the error and agreed to contact social service to resolve the error.”
Following the second phonecall, Ms Brophy noted:
“Ms D. Client contacted me to inform me that the superintendent in Bailieboro had not yet been informed of the error and requested I contact him.”
The tribunal has also heard of an email Ms Brophy sent to her superior Fiona Ward, on Friday, May 16, 2014, in which she again stated that the superintendent still had not been told of the error.
“Just a quick update, I tried Eileen Argue again but unfortunately she’s out of the office today so I sent her an email to update her. I received a call back from the superintendent and he informed me that he had not been told about the error. So I explained the issue to him. He told me that the matter is now being given over to the Commissioner and a separate team to investigate the case outside the region. However, I agreed to send him a copy of the amended report by registered post today and he will contact those with a current copy of the erroneous report to inform them. I have sent the amended report and he will have it by Monday morning and will copy it to the relevant parties.”
Mr McGuinness put it to Supt McGinn:
“If Ms Brophy’s email recording the conversation with you is correct, he [Mr D] mustn’t have brought it to your attention until after the phone call with the 16th?
Supt McGinn said: “When I spoke to Laura Brophy, I was aware of the error.”
Mr McGuinness continued:
“It’s just I am at a loss to understand how she could be recording the fact that you hadn’t been told about the error if you’re clear in your recollection and in your statement that Mr D told you about it and you phoned Tusla?”
Supt McGinn said:
“It may be, again I can only say it may be, that misunderstanding either on her part or perhaps my part, that I was unaware of the original allegation, that I think I said, possibly my words would be, I know nothing about it. I think has that arisen at some stage in the Tribunal here? In other words, that I was unaware of the original allegation, but that the second allegation, or that the referral contained an inflation of what had earlier been alleged.”
Readers may also recall that when Ms D was asked if she would presumably have had to have spoken to her father, in order to know what Supt McGinn did or did not know, Ms D said: “It would have been, yes”
But when Mr D was asked about this, Mr D said he did not pass on information pertaining to Supt McGinn’s stated knowledge of the wrong referral to his daughter.
Mr D told the tribunal:
Chairman, I’m under oath here. I did not — I do not recall ever saying that to Ms. D about Superintendent McGinn’s state of knowledge or otherwise.
And what of Supt McGinn informing Chief Superintendent Sheridan of the error?
The tribunal heard that Chief Supt Sheridan passed on the fake allegation to Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny on May 14, in the full knowledge it was wrong but not stating so.
In any event, the tribunal heard Ms Brophy’s amended referral arrived on May 16 and Supt McGinn forwarded this to Chief Supt Sheridan on May 20.
Asked by Mr McGuinness if he could account for the four-day delay to contact Chief Supt Sheridan, Supt McGinn said:
“The 16th May was a Friday and it arrived the 20th, is it, arrived — 16th is a Friday, and Monday was the 19th, therefore… So that may explain it. Post, what time it was posted Friday? I don’t know.”
Chief Supt Sheridan then wrote back to Supt McGinn on May 22. It was actually a letter for the Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny but it was cc-ed to Supt McGinn.
Chief Supt Sheridan wrote:
“This is a referral made by Tusla relating to an incident which was reported to and investigated by An Garda Síochána in 2006/7. The Director of Public Prosecutions directed there should not be a prosecution in the case.
“The attached referral does not disclose any new information/evidence in regard to these matters and therefore at this time does not require any further action by An Garda Síochána. It is my understanding that Ms. D has made a complaint based on the allegations set out in the attached referral form to the following parties: Micheál Martin TD, and that he subsequently referred the matter to An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD and An Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. A full copy of the Garda investigation file is available at this office. I also wish to advise that a complete copy of the Garda investigation file was disclosed to the Guerin inquiry.”
Readers will recall Ms D didn’t make an actual statement to GSOC, following her email on April 29, 2014, until July 3, 2014.
Supt McGinn said the first time he knew of Ms D’s case going to GSOC was upon reading this letter from Chief Supt Sheridan.
The tribunal heard that on July 16, 2014, there was a meeting with Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny in Mullingar.
Those in attendance were: Assistant Commissioner Kenny, Chief Supt Sheridan, Supt
McGinn and Sergeant Karen Duffy, who was taking notes, among other duties.
Supt Cunningham – who carried out the original investigation in 2006 – was not there.
The tribunal heard minutes of the meeting:
“Superintendent McGinn raised the issue that the suspect has access to kids in relation to his job, etcetera. Is there a risk? Assistant Commissioner Kenny stated that he agreed and this matter needed to be dealt with properly. Superintendent L. McGinn outlined that the Garda investigation has been completed.”
“Superintendent L. McGinn outlined that the suspected offender was not arrested at the time of the investigation and this may be an issue, and also the fact that the matter was investigated by members with the Cavan-Monaghan division.”
“Assistant Commissioner Kenny suggested a meeting needs to be arranged with Ken Ruane, Head of Legal Affairs. Chief Superintendent Sheridan was in agreement. Assistant Commissioner Kenny outlined that An Garda Síochána has accepted that it was an error on the part of the HSE. Chief Superintendent Sheridan outlined that he would liaise with the HSE to establish what their intention/strategy is. Assistant Commissioner outlined that advice needed — the matter needed to be dealt with correctly.”
Supt McGinn told the tribunal:
“If it had — as far as we were concerned on that day, this — a Tusla referral had not been submitted. It was still, even at that late juncture, incumbent on us to submit that referral.“
At that meeting, it was decided that legal advice would be sought while contact would be made with the HSE to get a further explanation as to how the error had occurred.
But neither of these things happened.
Readers will recall how Sgt McCabe was first notified of the false rape allegation when Tusla wrote to him on December 29, 2015 stating it was investigating him for the rape.
Inspector Pat O’Connell, Jim Gibson, Cormac Quinlan, Evelyn Waters, Rosalie Smith-Lynch and
Dermot Monaghan are scheduled to give evidence today.
Retired Asst Commissioner Kieran Kenny is scheduled to give evidence tomorrow, along with Mark McConnell, Forensic Science Northern Ireland, Sergeant Duffy and Superintendent Frank Walsh.
Previously: Disclosures, Discrepancies And Paul Williams
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/334556410″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
In an interview with Eamon Dunphy, on Mr Dunphy’s podcast The Stand…
Irish Examiner journalist Mick Clifford spoke to Mr Dunphy about the past week’s proceedings.
During the interview, Mr Clifford drew attention to the claim made by Ms D that she started to go to counselling in July 2013 because hearing Sgt McCabe’s name in the media was upsetting her.
Mr Clifford said:
“She [Ms D] said she went back because Maurice McCabe was being in the media and this brought up old feelings for her. I would make one point in that regard. In July 2013, when she went back, Maurice McCabe’s name, I know for example, might have been on a couple of websites online. It was not broadcast in the media, it was not in the print media for the general public his name was not around at all. Now, she may well have seen it – that’s just the context for that…”
Readers will note Broadsheet has also previously highlighted this here
Related: The Stand (Eamon Dunphy)