You may recall a post from last year about the Children’s Ombudsman’s investigation into the HSE’s neglect of a 10-year-old rape victim, Maggie*.
Maggie was accompanied by her mother when she told Gardaí she had been raped in 2006. The Gardaí referred her to the HSE but the HSE failed to provide her with a follow-up services for several weeks. Within that time she was raped by the same man again. When Maggie finally did speak to the HSE, she felt the HSE didn’t believe her, prompting her to attempt suicide.
Last night, on RTÉ Radio One’s Drivetime Philip Boucher Hayes returned to the case in light of the recent GSOC controversy.
He reported that gardaí withheld information from GSOC for four years while Maggie’s mother Sarah* wrote to the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan about the situation two years ago but did not receive a reply or acknowledgement.
He also reported Sarah’s claims that some gardaí didn’t make themselves available for interview with GSOC.
Mr Boucher Hayes then played a recorded interview he conducted with Sarah last week.
Sarah: “I made a complaint because there was a three-year turnaround for the file to come back from the DPP. It took 18 months for the first file to go to the DPP in the first place whereas I had been told, after a year, that it was gone. I only found out by default that it was still sitting in the garda station. So I wanted to highlight the delay, number one. And I also wanted to highlight all the issues I felt hadn’t been dealt with and I had come up with 10 in total, that we wrote back to the DPP asking for these 10 points be reviewed and for the file to be reviewed.”
Philip Boucher Hayes: “This complaint has been with the Garda Ombudsman then for over four years. What’s your understanding from GSOC as to the progress of their investigation.”
Sarah: “I know they have, they’re dealing with a lot of brick walls. They’re finding it very difficult to get information, they’re finding it difficult to get files.”
Boucher Hayes: “They have told you this?”
Sarah: “Yes,yes, they’re still waiting on the first file from four years ago.”
Boucher Hayes: “Sorry, when you say the file, do you mean the files gardaí would have sent to the DPP – that GSOC still haven’t got those four years later?”
Sarah: “No all they have are my statements and eventually statements from the gardaí. There was, as far as I know, nearly two years of a delay in getting the gardaí interviewed for it.”
Boucher Hayes: “So in addition to not receiving the files after four years, the gardaí that GSOC wish to interview haven’t all yet been interviewed?”
Sarah: “For the second case the guards have not been interviewed yet, no.”
Boucher Hayes: “Is there any reason or explanation that GSOC offered as to why this happened?”
Sarah: “What I’ve been told is that they’re not making themselves available for interview.”
Boucher Hayes: “So your understanding, let’s just be clear about this, only comes from GSOC and not from the gardaí and they are telling you that the gardaí, some of the gardaí, are just not making themselves available for interview?”
Sarah: “Yes that’s correct.”
Boucher Hayes: “Have you written to anybody else about this?”
Sarah: “I wrote to Commissioner [Martin] Callinan and I also wrote to Minister [Alan] Shatter two years ago. I’m still waiting for an answer for the two letters that went to the Garda Commissioner and Minister Shatter told me it wasn’t his department.”
Boucher Hayes: “And were the letters even acknowledged by the Garda Commissioner?”
Sarah: “No, no they weren’t acknowledged at all.”
Mr Boucher Hayes sent this interview to the gardaí last Friday for comment but they declined to comment officially.
However, yesterday morning, the files arrived at GSOC.
Mr Boucher Hayes also reported that, within An Garda Síochána, a disciplinary investigation with regard to Maggie’s case has been upgraded by one level, while GSOC may upgrade their investigation into Maggie’s case to a ‘public interest inquiry’.
Philip Boucher Hayes: “Her mother’s complaint to GSOC is that gardaí haven’t cooperated with GSOC’s investigation because they’ve been withholding investigation files for four years now. Files that are, by my reading of the legislation, supposed to have been handed over within one month of that investigation commencing.”
….Sarah, Maggie’s mother, alleges that there was a number of shortcomings in the original garda investigation. And at face value, it would appear to be the case or at least there is some substance to her complaint, otherwise GSOC wouldn’t have investigated it. They have given it the status of a supervised investigation which is the more serious and rare kind of inquiries that they can conduct. She claims that several key witnesses weren’t interviewed by gardaí and that there was a failure to gather important evidence. She also alleges that as Maggie became more comfortable about being interviewed by gardaí and talking about her abuse that she made a disclosure alleging that two men had joined her abuser, to take photographs of her naked but gardaí refused to take a statement from her on this claim. In addition to which she said that she made several complaints about the handling of the case and that once she had that Maggie herself was subject to harassment by gardaí. Now she is telling this programme, me, that she made a complaint to GSOC four years ago, actually in December of 2009 but that the GSOC investigation of that complaint, of the garda handling of Maggie’s case, has been frustrated by the gardaí’s refusal to make files available to GSOC in that case.
Listen back in full here.
Previously: The Case of Maggie
*Not real name.