Tag Archives: cynthia owen

Clockwise from top left: Cynthia Owen, Conor Devally SC; former Garda Frank Mullen and his wife Ellen Mullen; the late Shane O’Farrell

You may recall the case of Cynthia Owen.

Ms Owen has alleged that she was prostituted by her parents to a group of local men, including three local gardaí, in the 1970s.

In January 2016, she posted on her Facebook page photographs of the surviving men alleged by her to have been involved in this abuse. These photographs included former garda Frank Mullen.

In May 2016, Mr Mullen, a founder of the Garda Representative Association and former chairman of Dalkey United football club, gave two interviews to journalist Michael Clifford – for the Irish Examiner and Newstalk. In both interviews, he strenuously denied the allegations.

Ms Owen’s case was included in the Independent Review Mechanism which was set up by the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, in May 2014, to look into 322 cases concerning allegations of Garda misconduct.

The panel included two senior counsel, Conor Devally and Paul Greene, and five junior counsel, Paul Carroll, John Fitzgerald, Tony McGillicuddy, Siobhán Ni Chúlacháin, Karen O’Connor.

On November 4, in a written answer, the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said:

“Appropriate steps have been taken to ensure that nothing arises which might in any way detract from the integrity of the review mechanism, including issues of conflict of interest.

Arrangements have been put in place to ensure that if there is any conflict, or potential conflict, the conflicted counsel not only will not be involved in the particular complaint, but also will not be aware of which counsel is reviewing it.”

In 2015, Ms Owen was notified by the Department of Justice that this mechanism recommended no further action be taken in regards to her case.


In The Sunday Times last Sunday Justine McCarthy reported how panel member Conor Devally – who advised Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald not to reopen the inquiry into the case of Cynthia Owen – previously represented former Garda Frank Mullen in a separate, unrelated case.

Ms McCarthy reported:

Department of Justice documents released to Owen via a freedom of information (FoI) request show Conor Devally was the allocated counsel for her case in the independent review mechanism (IRM) set up by Fitzgerald to assess alleged miscarriages of justice.

In July 2015, Devally recommended “no further action be taken” in relation to Owen’s allegations of incest, child rape by a paedophile ring, and suspicious infant deaths. Devally cited time lapsed and lack of evidence among reasons for his advice.

He was one of two senior counsel employed for the IRM. The documents show he was paid €800 for reviewing Owen’s case, after receiving the file in July 2014. A form in the FoI documents records the reply “no” to a question as to whether the counsel had a conflict of interest.

In a High Court case involving a disputed will in 2011, Devally was the senior counsel for Frank Mullen, a retired garda who has denied Owen’s accusations he was involved in her abuse.

Devally said: “I am constrained from speaking about the work of the IRM under the terms of my engagement as a legal adviser to the minister and the department. I am unaware of any conflict that is suggested to you. I was not conscious of any at the time.”

Owen got the department’s file after appealing the department’s refusal to give it to her. “We are not saying Conor Devally was biased but if there is even a perception of bias his report should be set aside,” said Gerry Dunne, Owen’s solicitor.

In 2007, after a jury at the inquest into the death of Noleen Murphy unanimously found she was the child of Cynthia Owen; that she died at the family’s former home in White’s Villas in Dalkey; and that her cause of death was haemorrhage due to stab wounds; Minister for Justice Michael McDowell appointed Patrick Gageby SC to review Ms Owen’s clams.

In 2008, Mr Gageby’s report was delivered to the Minister for Justice.

In it, he advised against a public inquiry, apparently because of the legal difficulties that would be brought about by the serious allegations made against certain people, and because of the amount of time that had elapsed since the death.

It has since emerged that, prior to being appointed to review Ms Owen’s case,  Mr Gageby had publicly called for a limit on the time allowed to elapse between an alleged sex crime and the prosecution of the suspect as there was a danger the accused could not receive a fair trial.

Dalkey review lawyer previously acted for ‘abuser’ (Justine McCarthy, The Sunday Times)


Lucia and Jim O’Farrell with a picture of their late son, Shane

Readers may also recall how the case of Shane O’Farrell was also included in the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM).

The 23-year-old student died in a hit-and-run just outside Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan on August 2, 2011.

The man who struck Shane, Zigimantas Gridzuiska, 39, from Lithuania, had 42 previous convictions in three different jurisdictions and was out on bail at the time.

Shane’s family also raised concerns about SC Conor Devally’s involvement in the IRM, as Mr Devally represented Zigimantas Gridzuiska.

The O’Farrell family were alarmed at Mr Devally’s inclusion given that they would have mentioned Mr Devally as having represented Mr Gridzuiska in correspondence with the Attorney General Máire Whelan and Minister for Justice for 18 months prior to the establishment of the IRM.

The O’Farrell family were told that Mr Devally wouldn’t be involved in the Shane O’Farrell case.

However, readers may wish to note…

In a written answer to Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins on July 16, 2014, the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald said:

Counsel will be paid a fee on a case by case basis of €300, €550 or €800 depending on the complexity of each case. Senior Counsel will additionally have a brief fee of €20,000 to oversee the operation of the mechanism and ensure consistency of approach across all the cases. 

In addition, in a written answer to a PQ by Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness, on December 16, 2014, Ms Fitzgerald said:

“Appropriate steps have been taken that nothing arises which might in any way detract from the integrity of the review mechanism, including issues of conflict of interest. Arrangements have been put in place to ensure that if there is any conflict, or potential conflict, the conflicted counsel not only will not be involved in the particular complaint, but also will not be aware of the which counsel is reviewing it.

The order in which cases are dealt with is a matter for Senior Counsel who, in addition to examining individual complaints, are required to advise the Department generally on the management of the process, take a joint lead in allocating cases to Junior Counsel, and jointly oversee recommendations with a view to ensuring as far as possible a consistency of approach.”

Peviously: Refusing To Collude

‘Delay, Deny, Lie Then Cover-Up’

A Dalkey Archive



From top: Irish Press cover the morning after the fire; eight of those who perished in the fire; Irish Examiner cover in May, 2016 in which former Garda Frank Mullen denied any involvement in the House of Horrors and the Howard fire.

On May 3, former garda Frank Mullen gave an interview to Irish Examiner journalist Michael Clifford.

On the following Sunday, May 8, Mr Clifford broadcast an interview with Mr Mullen, and his wife Ellen, on Newstalk.

The subject of both interviews was Cynthia Owen and allegations she has made against Mr Mullen, a founder of the Garda Representative Association and former chairman of Dalkey United football club.

Mrs Owen has alleged that she was prostituted by her parents to a group of local men, including three local gardaí, in the 1970s.

In January of this year, she posted on her Facebook page photographs of the surviving men alleged by her to have been involved in this abuse. These photographs included Mr Mullen.

Mr Mullen strenuously denied the allegations in both interviews.

But Mr Mullen also referred to a fire that took place at 8, Carysfort Avenue in Dalkey in the early hours of Monday, March 11, 1974.

The fire claimed the lives of news vendor Derek (41) and Stella Howard (37), who was pregnant, and 11 of their 13 children – Louise (19), Derek (17), Jackie (15), Margaret (13), Jimmy (11), Collette (9), Marcella (8), Ronald (7), Catherine (3), Victoria (2) and Alan (1).

Three members of the Howard family – Louise, 19; Colm, 14 and Anthony, 12 – initially survived the fire. Louise later died on March 18.

In the Irish Examiner article, Mr Mullen explained that, during a Garda interview in 2014, as part of a review of Ms Owen’s allegations, he was shown a list of allegations against him that “numbered over 100”.

This was the first time, he said, that he learned allegations had been made against him concerning the Howard fire.

Mr Mullen told Mr Clifford:

“I was told a document came into their possession. He [a garda] read it out about the disaster of the Howard family where 13 of them were burned to death in Dalkey. He said there was an allegation that me and others broke into the Howard family home, murdered some of them with a pick-axe handle, and burned the bodies. And that I drove one of those left alive around and tried to kill him.”

In the article, Mr Mullen says he didn’t hear any more as, after being notified of these allegations, he passed out. An ambulance was called, but he recovered without having to go to hospital. Later that year, he suffered a stroke.

In the Newstalk interview, Mr Mullen talked again about the first time he heard there were allegations against him concerning the fire.

Mr Mullen said:

“Out of the blue, they produced an envelope and they said, ‘we’ve one thing here to mention to you. It’s the Howard disaster’. And I didn’t know what they were going to say and they said that myself and others had broken into the Howard house and murdered these people and then set fire to destroy the evidence. I got such a shock that I passed out. I physically passed out that week. I couldn’t believe it and that was the first I’d ever heard about it. And I have heard nothing about it since except that it’s beyond belief that the Garda Siochana would have that sort of information and that I was never told about it. And, what more can I say?”

During the interview, Ellen Howard said this exchange with the gardai took place on July 17, 2014. She also said that Frank Mullen’s father and Derek Howard’s fathers were friends as they worked in the corporation together.

In the Irish Examiner article, Mr Clifford wrote that it was his understanding that the allegations against Mr Mullen in relation to the fire, were made to the gardai via Ms Owen.

Mr Clifford wrote:

“The Irish Examiner understands that the allegation originated with the surviving member of the Howard family, who has died in the last year. It was passed on to Cynthia Owen, who conveyed it to the gardaí.”

But, in contrast, Ms Owen’s solicitor Gerry Dunne told Mr Clifford:

“A number of years ago Anthony Howard made contact with our client through social media and informed her that he had been trying to get the Gardaí to deal with his allegations for some time without success. Extremely serious allegations were made by Mr Howard against Frank Mullen, which up until then our client was unaware of. Our client understands that when Anthony Howard attended a Memorial Mass in Dalkey for his family in 2014 he repeated his allegations to various people.

“Our client has also been informed by Gardaí in recent times that they were seeking to speak with Anthony Howard who had made it clear that he wanted some progress made on his allegations. Unfortunately, Anthony Howard has now died and our client does not know whether Gardaí are continuing to follow up on any of Mr Howard’s allegations.”

Mr Clifford’s article also summarised the cause of the fire as follows:

“The cause of the fire has always been regarded as accidental… The fire in March 1974 was regarded at the time as a tragic accident. Mr Howard was a newspaper vendor and one of the rooms of the house was understood to be full of newspapers. An oil heater in the house was believed to have been the source of the fire.”

The Howard family home at 8, Carysfort Avenue was a two-storey semi-detached house. On the ground floor were four rooms. There was a sitting room, at the front of the house, while the following three rooms were at the back of the house: a kitchen, a toilet and a separate bathroom.

The front room (sitting room) was separated from the other rooms by a hallway and, at one end of the hallway, was a short stairway. It also contained a three-piece PVC-covered suite which included a couch, upon which Louise slept. Continue reading



From top: Cynthia Owen; Journalist Michael Clifford; Frank and Ellen Mullen

Frank Mullen, alongside his wife Ellen, has given journalist Michael Clifford two interviews in the past fortnight – with the Irish Examiner and Newstalk radio – to “clear his name” in the so-called Dalkey House of Horrors case.

A complete transcript of the Newstalk interview is below this article and the couple’s interview in the Irish Examiner can be read here.

Broadsheet readers may be familiar with this case through the efforts of Cynthia Owen (formerly Sindy Murphy), whose story featured on our post ‘A Dalkey Archive’.

Mrs Owen was found by an inquest jury in 2007 to be the mother of an infant (subsequently named as Noleen Murphy) stabbed to death and left in a doorway in Lee’s Lane, Dun Laoghaire in April 1973. Cynthia Owen was 11 years old at the time.

Mrs Owen has stated that Noleen was born in her parents’ house at 4 White’s Villas, Dalkey and murdered by her mother Josie with a knitting needle prior to being disposed of in Lee’s Lane.

Mrs Owen and a number of her siblings have also made statements alleging sexual abuse by her father Peter Murphy – a former Corporation labourer and subsequently caretaker of the Town Hall, Dalkey – and other members of the Murphy household.

The Garda investigation into Noleen’s death, which took place over a six-week period in 1973, failed to identify Cynthia as the child’s mother.

At the 2007 inquest, evidence was given that key files were missing and that at least one Garda statement in the remaining files had been fabricated.

Items found with the body, which could have provided DNA to assist in identifying maternity and paternity, were also missing.

A request to have Noleen’s body exhumed from the plot in the Holy Angel’s Plot, Glasnevin, where she had been buried in 1973, was refused by the then Justice Minister Michael McDowell.

Continue reading




From top: Front page of today’s Irish Examiner; Cynthia Owen and Paul McGrath

In January, Cynthia Owen used Facebook to name people she said were among a paedophile ring operating in Dalkey, Co. Dublin – who abused her – in the 1970s.

One of those named was former Garda, founder of the Garda Representative Association and co-founder of Dalkey United football club, Frank Mullen.

Cynthia gave birth to a baby girl, Noleen, in 1973 when she was just 11 years old. It is unknown who fathered the child.

In 2007, an inquest jury found Cynthia was the mother of Noleen who was stabbed with a knitting needle over 40 times just after the birth. Noleen’s body was left in a lane way in Dun Laoghaire.

Cynthia told the inquest that her daughter had been conceived following rape by a number of men and that she had been murdered by Cynthia’s mother Josie Murphy shortly after birth.

Following the inquest, the then Justice Minister Michael McDowell appointed Patrick Gageby SC to review the Garda investigation into the death of Noleen. Mr Gageby found there was no reason for any more action to be taken on the matter.

Further to this, today’s Irish Examiner has published an article by Michael Clifford in which Mr Mullen says all of the allegations against him are false. The article can be read in full here.

Cynthia Owen writes:

I note the article in today’s Irish Examiner which is essentially an interview with Frank Mullen, who has identified himself as somebody who has been a suspect in this case and whose name the Gardaí have not cleared.

It is not for me to address every point Mr Mullen makes in his interview but, by his own admission, he has not been cleared of his involvement in the abuse I suffered and the murder of my daughter as a result of that abuse.

The HSE found me to be very credible, likewise the psychologist hired by the Gardaí to assess my mental health.

And also a jury of six men and six women in the inquest that identified Noleen Murphy as my daughter, who was born to me when I was 11 years old and murdered by my mother to protect the men who were abusing me and who could be her father.

I stand by every allegation I have made regarding the abuse I suffered as a child. My murdered baby girl still lies in a mass grave in Glasnevin, despite my efforts to have her returned to me for a dignified burial, her murder remains unsolved.

I have been calling for a sworn public inquiry and now repeat that call as otherwise the truth will not come out.

Michael Clifford: Frank Mullen: ‘I couldn’t leave a legacy like that behind me’ (Irish Examiner)

Previously: A Dalkey Archive

Why Didn’t They Exhume?


From The Examiner interview::

‘Last year, Mr Mullen’s long tenure with Dalkey United came to an end. He had been one of the founder members of the club more than 50 years ago. Among the players he mentored and remained friends with was Irish football legend Paul McGrath.’

Paul McGrath has since tweeted:

Comments are closed (broadsheet@broadsheet.ie).



From top: Former Minister for Justices Alan Shatter and  Michael McDowell; Noleen’s grave in Glasnevin

Some 320 complaints of alleged Garda misconduct were investigated by an Independent Review Panel, set up by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

It’s understood that the panel has found that no further investigation should be carried out into 90% of these complaints.

The Justice4all Committee has now sent 13 sample cases to the United Nations Human Rights Commission to summon the next Justice Minister to “answer for the State’s failings”.

They include the case of Cynthia Owen.

In 2007, an inquest jury found Cynthia Owen, formerly Cindy Murphy of White’s Villas, Dalkey, to be the mother of an newborn girl, Noeleen Murphy, stabbed with a knitting needle over 40 times times in 1973 before being left in a lane way in Dun Laoghaire.

Cynthia was aged 11 at the time of Noeleen’s birth and death. She told the inquest that her daughter, conceived following rape by a number of men, had been murdered by Cynthia’s mother Josie Murphy shortly after birth.

At the inquest, evidence was given that a significant part of Dun Laoghaire Garda Station’s file on the case was missing, and that a statement by at least one member of the gardai had been forged.

Noleen was buried in the Holy Angels Plot, Glasnevin, in an identifiable grave (above) with a number of other babies.

Legal Coffee Drinker writes:

In 2006 then Minister for Justice Minister Michael McDowell refused the request of the Dublin City Coroner Keiran Geraghty that Noleen’s body be exhumed for DNA testing, saying he could not approve a course of conduct which “would cause such extensive distress and face such an uncertain outcome.”

Objections to the exhumation had been received from the trust which runs Glasnevin Cemetery. However there is no report of any objection having been received by Minister McDowell from the parent of any other baby in the Holy Angels Plot.

In the run up to the 2007 election, Alan Shatter, then a Dáil candidate in Dublin South, criticised the refusal to exhume, stating that DNA technology was so sophisticated that it might be appropriate.

Mr Shatter, a solicitor, had previously acted for Cynthia Owen. He was re-elected and appointed Minister for Justice in March 2011.

However no exhumation of Noleen’s body took place.

In 2014, Richard Boyd Barrett challenged Minister Shatter in the Dail on lack of action in relation to the death of Noeleen Murphy.

In his response, Minister Shatter described the case as “troubling and tragic but… there is not sufficient evidence to warrant the taking of a prosecution in the matter…should something now emerge as a result of the further inquiries that are being conducted, I will treat it with great care and seriousness.

Minister Shatter resigned as Minister for Justice later that year.

With the legal age of consent in 1972 being well over 11, Noleen’s conception must necessarily have been as a result of a statutory rape.

The identity of the perpetrator can be proved by exhumation of her body, which would provide sufficient evidence for taking a prosecution.

A number of Cynthia Owen’s alleged rapists – alleged to include at least two former gardai – are still alive. It is claimed that this contributed to the botching of the investigation conducted by Dun Laoghaire Garda Station into Noleen’s death.

As of today, it has been reported that Cynthia’s case is to be referred to the UN Human Rights Committee. Minister Shatter will be running for Fine Gael in Dublin-Rathdown in the forthcoming election.

Perhaps Broadsheet readers who come across him during his election campaign would like to ask him, in light of his 2007 comments, what steps he intends to take, if re-elected, to progress the exhumation of Noleen Murphy?


Previously : A Dalkey Archive

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 16.44.10 Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 15.14.18 Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 15.14.32

A letter to Cynthia Owen, explaining why the Independent Panel Review has recommended that no further action be taken in regards to her case

You may recall a recent post about Cynthia Owen.

It followed her using Facebook to name the people she said were among a paedophile ring operating in Dalkey, Co. Dublin, that abused her in the 1970s.

In the post, Cynthia explained that, after the Independent Panel Review recommended no further action be taken in respect of her case, she wrote to every member of the Dáil – asking them that, should they be elected, if they would ensure she gets a full inquiry into her case.

Cynthia writes…

I received acknowledgements from the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, Lucinda Creighton, Michael Noonan, James Reilly, and Gerry Adams and Mary Mitchell O’Connor. But from previous experience an acknowledgement does not mean that you will ever hear from them again. I often receive acknowledgements from the Taoiseach and Ms Fitzgerald and Gerry Adams, then they never contact me again.

I received a reply from Willie O’Dea and Joe Higgins to inform me they have written to Frances Fitzgerald, about the matter. Joe Higgins informed me that Ruth Coppinger will be asking the Taoiseach about my case on Thursday in the Dáil and that he would send me the question and answer when he receives it.

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn replied and actually provided me with two appointments to come to Leinster House to discuss the matter with him. This is the first time since 1996 I have ever been invited by any TD to meet with them at Leinster House. I replied and explained that I live in the UK, but I sent further information to help Padraig understand my case and decide how he can help me.

Richard Boyd Barrett, Clare Daly and Mick Wallace are already supporting me and bring my case up regularly in the Dáil. They have been outstanding in their support. Niall Collins has previously pledged his support but he has not answered my email or been in touch since the Minister turned my case down for an inquiry. However I do note that Niall is calling for a more comprehensive and independent review of the cases.

Joan Collins responded and said she has brought up my case before and will do so again.

I am astounded at the way myself and all the panel review victims have been treated, and cannot believe that no one in Fine Gael will stand up and do what is necessary. I feel particularly betrayed by Fine Gael, in that Enda Kenny was corresponding with me before he became Taoiseach, and that Alan Shatter was my lawyer for four years before he became Minister for Justice.

Both these men have extensive knowledge about my case, and yet sit by a review done by Patrick Gageby which, in my opinion was seriously flawed and was made up of information given to him by a Garda who was friends with the men who abused me and with my father.

This nightmare just gets worse and worse for me with each passing year, I cannot believe I am now in my 23rd year of fighting the Irish authorities for justice for Noleen.

I really thought that with Frances Fitzgerald would act to end the torture and suffering I go through, day in day out, instead she just joined the long queue of other politicians in Ireland that are too frightened to do what needs to be done in this case.

She should hang her head in shame and should resign – not just for the way she treated me and my daughter but for the way she treated all of the victims who so heavily relied on her to end their nightmare and the injustices they suffered.

Previously: A Dalkey Archive

Justice Denied


Cynthia Owen

Cynthia Owen recently used Facebook to name the people she said were among a paedophile ring operating in Dalkey, Co. Dublin, that abused her in the 1970s.

In 2007, the then Justice Minister Michael McDowell appointed Patrick Gageby SC to review the Garda investigation into the death of Cynthia’s daughter Noeleen Murphy, whom Cynthia gave birth to when she was just 11, in 1973.

Mr Gageby, who was to see if the public interest required the matter to be taken further, found this not to be the case.

A recent Independent Review Panel, set up by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to look into allegations of Garda misconduct (following allegations made by Sergeant Maurice McCabe and former Garda whistleblower John Wilson), looked into the Gageby Review and concluded that they agreed with Mr Gageby’s findings.

A vigil was held at the weekend outside Leinster House in memory of Cynthia’s daughter.

Below is a timeline of significant events in Cynthia’s story to date and below Cynthia writes about her fight for justice.

1961: Cynthia Owen (nee Murphy) is born to Peter Murphy and Josephine (“Josie”) Murphy. The family reside at 4 White’s Villas, Dalkey. He is a familiar figure in the pubs around Dalkey and, in later years, he would become the caretaker of the Town Hall in Dalkey.

1968-9: From the age of 7, Cynthia is anally and vaginally raped by Peter Murphy. She is also abused by her mother, Josie Murphy, various members of her extended family and by a man who visits the family home and rapes her with the consent of her parents in return for payment. This man, known as Ken, would later form part of the paedophile ring that abused her.

1971: A 10-year-old Cynthia is taken by her mother at night to a house, near her home where she is raped by a number of local men with the consent of her mother. The next day Cynthia is sent around to the businesses of some of the men concerned to collect items and money. The rape in the house recurs on a monthly basis and continues after Cynthia gets her first period at the age of 10. She also continues to be abused by her father and other family members.

1972: Shortly after her 11th birthday, Cynthia experiences the first symptoms of pregnancy. She is informed by her mother that she is having a baby and that this must be kept secret. On her mother’s instructions, Cynthia continues to attend school throughout her pregnancy, concealing her figure under a coat worn at all times. Mother Dorothy, the school headmistress, accosts her and asks if she is pregnant, but Cynthia, who does not fully understand the word ‘pregnant,’ denies this. In response, Mother Dorothy makes Cynthia sit with her back to the class.

April 1973: Cynthia gives birth to a baby girl, Noleen Murphy, at White’s Villas. Immediately after her birth, Noeleen is stabbed to death by Josie Murphy using a knitting needle. In the early hours of the morning, two of the men from the paedophile ring, one of them a Garda, are waiting in the garden to enter the family  home to help clean up the scene.

Josie sets off with Cynthia on foot to Dun Laoghaire to dispose of Noleen’s body. On the way, they meet two members of the Gardaí who question them but accept Josie’s statement that they are on the way home from visiting relatives.

Noleen’s body is found that evening by two local boys in Lee’s Lane, Dun Laoghaire, where she had been left by Josie and Cynthia. The Garda spend just six weeks on the murder case, and then downgrade it to infanticide. Neither Cynthia nor her family are ever interviewed as part of this investigation. An inquest into Noleen’s death is postponed indefinitely, and she is buried in a communal grave in the Holy Angels plot in Glasnevin Cemetery. The abuse of Cynthia by family members and local men continues as before.

1976: Cynthia becomes pregnant for the second time and leaves school. In June, she gives birth prematurely to a stillborn boy, John Murphy, and her family bury his body in the back garden of 4 White’s Villas.

1981: Cynthia marries and leaves home.

1982: Cynthia’s younger brother, Martin Murphy, makes his first suicide attempt and is admitted to hospital.

1990: Cynthia, living in England and in a new relationship, attends counselling to deal with recurring anxiety arising from her childhood experiences.

Cynthia receives a visit from her niece Theresa Murphy, daughter of her older sister Margaret Stokes but brought up as the child of Peter and Josie Murphy, who tells her that she and her brother were repeatedly abused by Peter Murphy as children.

April 1994: Cynthia makes a statement to the North Yorkshire Police about her childhood abuse.

January 1995: Martin Murphy dies by suicide at 4 White’s Villas.

April 1995: Cynthia contacts Dun Laoghaire Garda Station and makes a full statement about the circumstances of Noeleen’s death. The investigation is re-opened, but Peter and Josie Murphy, when arrested and questioned, deny Cynthia was ever pregnant.

June 2002: Another younger brother of Cynthia, Michael Murphy, goes missing. He had been suffering from depression prior to his disappearance.

April 7, 2003: Carol Coulter, in The Irish Times, reported:

“Miscarriages of justice can and do occur with sexual offences, according to a leading senior counsel. Mr Patrick Gageby SC told a conference there was a particular danger of this happening when the case relates to old offences. In more recent cases there was usually forensic evidence which could be of help to the accused as well as to the prosecution. But this did not exist with old cases. Mr Gageby said there was also a subversion of the presumption of innocence with old cases. People asked why a person would “say such a thing” if the offence had not happened. It was important that old cases be carefully investigated, and that collateral matters be examined. Giving an example from his own defence experience, he said he had a case where the victim described being abused in a neighbour’s house, and had a vivid memory of a floral-covered couch in the room. It emerged on investigation this couch was in his own home, not the neighbour’s. He warned that cases up to 40 or 50 years old might be given a credence they did not deserve. Judges should give carefully worded warnings to juries when they were summing up old cases. Proper and full disclosure was vital, he said. The gardai were not there primarily to help the victim, but to assist in the administration of justice.”

February 1, 2005: Michael Murphy’s remains are found by builders near Killiney Dart station, close to the Killiney Court Hotel where he was last seen. An earlier Garda search in the area had failed to uncover his body. An inquest into his death returns an open verdict due to a lack of evidence. It is read into the record at the inquest that Michael was an abuse victim.

February 23, 2005: Theresa Murphy dies by suicide. She leaves behind a 37-page document containing graphic accounts of sexual abuse at 4 White’s Villas. An inquest into her death, finds that it was contributed to by sexual abuse by unnamed family members.

May 30, 2005: At the National Prosecutors Converence Senior Counsel Patrick Gageby – a Senior Counsel with a long history of representing defendants in sexual offence cases – suggests a limit of 15 years on criminal proceedings taken against those accused of sexual abuse, saying that the media is “wholly uncritical” of the redress and compensation system for victims of institutional abuse with almost “uncritical” acceptance of everything an alleged victim says.

May 30, 2005: Carol Coulter, in The Irish Times, reports that “leading defence counsel” Patrick Gageby SC was calling for a limit on the time allowed to elapse between an alleged sex crime and the prosecution of the suspect as there was a danger the accused could not receive a fair trial.

June 2005: The garden at White’s Villas, no longer occupied by the Murphys, is excavated by Gardaí but the remains of Cynthia’s stillborn son John Murphy are not found.

September 2005: Following representations from Cynthia’s solicitors,the inquest into Noeleen Murphy’s death is re-opened. It had taken Cynthia and her legal team eight years to get the inquest re-opened.

June 2006: The Director of Public Prosecutions states that he does not intend to take any criminal proceedings in respect of the death of Noeleen Murphy.

June 2006: Dublin City Coroner Kieran Geraghty, presiding over the re-opened inquest into Noeleen’s death, writes to the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell requesting the exhumation of her body. Following receipt of strong objections from the Dublin Cemeteries Committee, the voluntary, independent body that owns and operates Glasnevin cemetery, McDowell turns down the request saying that he “cannot stand over an exhumation project which would cause such extensive distress and face such an uncertain outcome.”

August 2006: Josie Murphy dies.

February 2007: At the inquest into Noleen’s death, contemporaries of Cynthia Owen give evidence that she had been visibly pregnant in school at the age of 11. Cynthia and her sister Frances Murphy give evidence of persistent and repeated sexual abuse by family members including their brother Peter Murphy Junior, who waives anonymity to deny the allegations against him.

Two other sisters, Catherine Stevenson and Esther Roberts, admit sexual abuse by family members.

Margaret Stokes, mother of Theresa Murphy, denies ever having been abused but admitted that she once suffered a miscarriage in White’s Villas which her mother flushed down the toilet when she was 13 years old.

In a statement provided for the purposes of the inquest, but not made public by the Coroner, Cynthia Owen lists the men alleged to have been part of the group which had abused her, seven of whom are still alive and live in Dublin, and which include three members of the Gardaí.

The inquest also hears evidence regarding the original 1973 investigation. The jury are told that the investigation lasted a mere six weeks; that no blood samples were taken from Noleen’s body; that several items are missing, along with the plastic bag in which she had been found and its contents, from which no forensic samples had been taken. Half the investigation file has disappeared. In the remaining file is a written statement purportedly executed by Eddie Russell, former Dun Laoghaire station sergeant, confirming sight of Noleen’s body, which Mr Russell denies having executed, disputing its accuracy. No attempt is made by Counsel for An Garda Síochána to challenge Mr Russell’s denial.

February 17, 2007: The jury at the inquest into the death of Noeleen Murphy unanimously find that she was the child of Cynthia Owen; that she died at the family’s former home in White’s Villas in Dalkey; and that her cause of death was haemorrhage due to stab wounds. Having been told by the Coroner that they cannot return a verdict of unlawful killing as it would “implicate people” in criminal activity, which is outside the remit of an inquest, they return an open verdict in relation to the cause of death.

February 19, 2007: Responding to the inquest verdict, Michael McDowell states that he wants a full report from An Garda Síochána into its handling of the investigation into the death of Noeleen Murphy

February 19, 2007: Alan Shatter, solicitor and politician, recommends a full review of the Garda investigation. Mr Shatter raises once again the possibility of exhumation, stating that “DNA fingerprinting has reached a level of sophistication where, if the Government and An Garda Síochána were prepared to meet the cost of this, there’s a real possibility that the remains of this child be distinguishable from other remains… and might provide very cogent and important evidence, which I think would give rise to the possibility of a future criminal prosecution.”

February 25, 2007:
In an article published in the Sunday Tribune, journalist Justine McCarthy states that one garda, who worked on the investigation and who took statements from witnesses, was known to be a friend of Cynthia’s father. She also stated that another journalist, Brigid McLaughlin, who had written about Cynthia’s case, had been told by a member of the Dalkey rowing club that she would ‘end up in the sea’ if she continued to do so.

February 26, 2007: Michael McDowell announces that he has appointed Patrick Gageby SC – a Senior Counsel specialising in sexual offence cases – to review Noeleen’s death “on the basis of all the available papers on what is known in relation to the case and the garda investigation to see if the public interest requires the matter to be taken further.”

May 14, 2007: Peter Murphy and his daughters Esther, Margaret and Catherine issue judicial review proceedings in the High Court challenging the inquest verdict on the grounds of bias on the part of the coroner due to a predisposition to believe Ms Owen’s evidence. Questions are asked as to how Peter Murphy can fund the legal fees from the inquest and now a High Court case.

September 28, 2008: The Gageby report into Noeleen’s death is delivered to the Minister for Justice. It advises against a public inquiry, apparently because of the legal difficulties that would be brought about by the serious allegations made against certain people, and because of the amount of time that has elapsed since the death. To date, the report has not been made public.

December 12, 2009: Peter Murphy dies leaving an estate of €90,000.

June 2009: At a briefing on protecting children organised by the ICCL in Leinster House, Mr Gageby expresses the view that most cases involving under-age sex concerned people of roughly the same age rather than “flocks of paedophiles in dirty macs.”

March 12, 2010: The Murphy family withdraws their challenge to the inquest verdict following an acknowledgment by the Coroner that this verdict did not implicate Cynthia’s sister Catherine Stevenson in any wrongdoing.

2011: Alan Shatter is appointed Minister for Justice.

April 2013: Gardaí commence a review of the events surrounding Noeleen’s death as part of a series of reviews intended to examine claims that paedophile rapists were able to use influence to hinder scrutiny of their activities.

April 13, 2014: Cynthia Owen hands a petition with 12,444 signatures into the Department of Justice in support of a public enquiry into Noeleen’s death.

30 April 2014: Richard Boyd Barrett TD tells the Dail that Cynthia Owen was ritually abused and raped by members of her family, the local community and “at least 3 Senior Gardai from the area,” and that “one of the people accused by Cynthia Owen as being one of the abusers was one of the gardaí who arrived on the scene when her baby was found.” Mr Boyd Barrett further reports that Patrick Gageby SC had stated publicly, at a national prosecutors’ conference, that he believed cases of rape and abuse more than 15 years old should not be investigated and that counsellors and psychologists working in this area usually gave unreliable evidence, making his examination of the original investigation ‘a travesty’. He also expresses concern about the failure to prosecute given that, on the finding of the jury at the inquest, a statutory rape must necessarily have taken place.

Alan Shatter, responding to Mr Boyd Barrett, states that he has sought a full report from Garda authorities prior to proceeding further. He also states that he is not in a position to overrule the view of the DPP that there is insufficient evidence to warrant the taking of a prosecution. He describes the allegations of bias made by Mr Boyd Barrett against Mr Gageby as defamatory and expresses the view that a public inquiry is likely to achieve little unless it results in a prosecution.

May 2014: Alan Shatter resigns as Minister for Justice and is replaced by Frances Fitzgerald TD

December 2015: The Department of Justice writes to Cynthia Owen informing her that no public inquiry will be carried out. Up to this point the case has been sent to the  DPP eight times.

January 2016: Cynthia Owen names her abusers on her Facebook page, in an attempt to encourage other victims to come forward.

January 10, 2016: The Irish Mail on Sunday reports that the Independent Review Panel into alleged cases of garda misconduct, set up by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald following allegations made by former Garda John Wilson and Sergeant Maurice McCabe, has rejected more than 90 per cent of the complaints. Cynthia’s case was included in this review.

Sources: Irish Times, The Guardian, The Irish Examiner, The Sunday Independent, The Sunday Tribune, The Sunday Business Post, The Evening Herald, The Sunday World


Cynthia Owen writes…

I have been fighting for justice since 1995 and, to date, no one has has been prosecuted for these crimes committed against me. To date the case has gone to the DPP 8 times, with no prosecutions being recommended. I also tried to take a case to Europe but that failed too. At one point Alan Shatter was my lawyer for four years and he was looking at a civil case. He also was very vocal in the media and often called for a public inquiry into the case. But after he got into power he refused to help me.

Patrick Gageby refused to meet with me, the main witness, and did his review from speaking to the Gardaí at Dún Laoghaire where, at the time, my father’s friend was over the murder and abuse case – this particular police officer was also friends with three of the retired gardaí that abused me.

Despite all this, the Department of Justice have stood by this review, and to date have refused to give me a public inquiry.

More recently an Independent Panel Review was put together by the Department of Justice to look at 321 cases of Garda corruption, and my case was one of them. We were told we would have a decision in eight weeks, but the process took 15 months. Again, the Panel Review, made up of 5 solicitors and 2 barristers, did not interview or meet with any of the victims and, in the vast majority of the cases, no further action was recommended.

In my own case, the panel review admitted that while the Gageby Review was outside their remit, as they were supposed to be independent, they actually viewed the Gageby Review and said that they agreed with it, and then said that because the Gageby Review directed that no public inquiry be held into the matter, they felt that that was to be upheld.

Simply put, an Independent Panel Review, supposed to remain impartial, agreed with Gageby who had gained ALL of his information from the Garda who were friends with the men who abused me.

Fine Gael were actually proud of this Panel Review and boasted regularly in the Dáil that they were the first Government to ever set up a process to look at Garda corruption, but then went on to ignore the seriousness of the cases involved and refused to open a Commission of Investigation into the cases, which is the only way the victims in these cases will ever get any real answers about their loved ones.

In the very small percentage of cases that saw recommendations, some of them were recommended to go to the Garda Ombudsman, an avenue the victims could have pursued themselves without waiting 15 months to do so. Or some of them went to the Garda Commissioner for a report, again another avenue that a victim can explore themselves.

I am in regular touch with some of the other victims and I can say that we are literally devastated by the way we were treated by the Independent Panel Review. We had all really pinned our hopes on this process, but now feel shattered and completely disillusioned and let down all over again. Most of us had to wait 15 months to find out our cases were being ignored and some of us even got the letter on Christmas week, which is an awful time for those of us who have lost loved ones.

We have called for Frances Fitzgerald to resign and believe that she should be ashamed of how she treated us as a whole.

I have written to every member of the Dáil to ask them to commit to me in writing. I will be asking them that, should they be elected, will they give me the inquiry this case deserves. I intend to make public their response in the media on January 17.

A petition has been opened to call on Frances Fitzgerald to ignore the panel review’s recommendation and to give me the inquiry this case deserves. Please sign and share my petition link on social media.

Cynthia’s Facebook page can be visited here