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Raped aged 10, her baby murdered and dumped - Cynthia Owen demands 'justice for Noleen'

The 52-year-old says the original six-week garda investigation into the case that became known as the Dalkey ‘house of horrors’ was a sham. She’s calling for a full review.

Updated at 11.04pm

Cynthia Owen, with her solicitor Gerry Dunne, in Dublin today [Daragh Brophy/]

JUSTICE MINISTER ALAN Shatter is being called upon to set up a sworn inquiry into the death, 41 years ago today, of baby Noleen Murphy.

The infant, born to an 11-year-old girl at a house in Dalkey, was stabbed with a knitting needle over 40 times and left in a laneway in Dun Laoghaire.

Cynthia Owen, now 52, was officially named as Noleen’s mother following an inquest in 2007. No one has been held to account over her newborn daughter’s death.

Cynthia says she was repeatedly raped by her father, Peter Murphy, from the age of about eight – and that she was also sold for sex to a group of 12 men, including three gardaí.

She alleges that her own mother murdered Noleen, and deposited the baby’s remains in the Dun Laoghaire lane – dragging Cynthia with her on the journey.


Cynthia spoke at a press conference in Dublin city centre today, flanked by her solicitor, Gerry Dunne, TDs Richard Boyd Barrett and Clare Daly, and Fianna Fáil councillor Deirdre Heney.

Later, a petition with over 12,000 names was dropped into Minister Shatter’s department on Stephen’s Green.

The entreaty makes two distinct calls:

  • For the setting up of a public inquiry into Noleen’s murder, or for the case to be included in any Commission of Investigation arising out of senior counsel’s Sean Guerin’s examination of the dossier of files relating to cases allegedly mishandled by Gardaí. 
  • For a garda cold case team to re-open Noleen’s murder file. 

Cynthia has described the initial garda investigation of the case as a ‘sham’.

“Gardaí concluded their investigations in six weeks with the file effectively closed after that…and most of the file went missing along with all of the evidence,” her solicitor Gerry Dunne told this afternoon’s press conference.


A review of the original 1973 investigation, carried out after the 2007 inquest by senior counsel Patrick Gageby, found that “most of the surrounding documents, some time after that date, were lost or mislaid”.

That review, completed in October of 2007, did not recommend any further action be taken.

Stabbed baby inquest PA Archive / Press Association Images PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Speaking to the media after the 2007 inquest 

Cynthia has continued her calls for a full review of her case since then.

She spoke this afternoon of her frustration and disappointment in Minister Shatter’s lack of action on her behalf.

The Dublin South TD – who represented the Dalkey woman legally for four years in the 1990s – called for a full review of the the 1973 file while working in private practice in 2007.

This, however, is his current official stance on the issue – detailed in response to a written Dáil question from Boyd Barrett in February of this year:

The Deputy will be aware that this tragic case was the subject of an independent examination by a Senior Counsel who reported in 2007 and whose conclusions were accepted by the then Minister.
Establishing an inquiry into the events in question would not be consistent with the report’s findings. 

Cynthia also described how she had been in correspondence with the Taoiseach on the issue, while he was in opposition…


Dunne told reporters today how Cynthia’s abuse had continued for three more years after Noleen’s birth.

She later gave birth to a second child, John, whose body has never been found.

“If the gardaí had done what they should have done then, those three years followed by the birth of John could have been avoided,” Dunne said.

He said Cynthia Owen had “gone through 41 years of hell, made worse by a system that does not seem to care”.

Three younger siblings – two to our knowledge and one to our belief have taken their own lives – all of them having been abused and raped. Those three younger siblings wouldn’t have suffered if the State had done what it should have done in 1973 and investigated and reported properly, and taken the children out of family home.

Dunne called for a meeting with Shatter to discuss the case, saying that he was “simply refusing” to do anything to help Cynthia pursue justice, in spite of previously calling for a full review of the 41-year-old case.

First posted at 7pm

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