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"Serious failure" in investigation of child rape case - but no gardaí found to have breached discipline

Two women told GSOC that due to delays in the Garda investigation, the charges against the boy were dropped.

Image: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

THE GARDA SÍOCHÁNA Ombudsman’s Commission says there were serious faults in the investigation into allegations of rape made by two children.

The GSOC report is into allegations made by a woman that due to delays in the garda investigation of the alleged rape of her eight-year-old daughter by a 16-year-old son of a friend, charges against the alleged perpetrator were dropped.

Another woman had also alleged the same teen had sexually abused her daughter.

The women told GSOC that due to delays in the garda investigation, the charges against the boy were dropped.

The first woman, Ms A, told the commission that at a family party in July 2008, the son of a family friend took her daughter into a bathroom, locked the door and told her to take her panties off.

He then raped her vaginally and either attempted to, or did, penetrate her anally. The child appears to have told her mother the following evening and a complaint was immediately made to an Garda Síochána.

An investigation commenced, led by a sergeant and the child was taken to hospital.

The alleged perpetrator’s home was also searched on that day and he went to a garda station with his mother, where he made a voluntary cautioned statement.

Ms A’s husband died in December 2008 and she said that she did follow up on the matter for a time, while grieving and attending counselling.

She said that in the meantime the investigating sergeant was transferred to another area and the case was not followed up for a number of years. In 2011 or 2012, a different garda sergeant began investigating and the teenager was charged.

The suspect sought a judicial review, arguing his rights as a child had been breached. The case concluded in January 2014 and the prosecution was prohibited from proceeding.

Ms B

29/1/2014. Anglo Court Cases Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

The second woman, Ms B, told gardaí the same teenager had abused her daughter. She alleged the Director of Public Prosecutions had said there would be no prosecution because the mother “talked like a child”.

The accused was not charged until after his 20th birthday and the charges were dropped. This led to both mothers complaining to GSOC.

The GSOC investigation says gardaí were identified as being in potential neglect of duty and issued with notifications of the investigation. All nine submitted “lengthy” statements.

Ms A believed that there was a delay in the investigation of the alleged rape of her daughter. Ms B believed that the alleged sexual assault of her daughter was not properly investigated.

GSOC found that, within one month of the complaint, the garda investigation was almost completed.

The delays occurred when the garda investigation file tried to move forward through the National Juvenile Liaison Office. A decision which could have been made in a quick time frame was left for two years.

They say that an excessive amount of time passed between the report and the file’s progress within the legal system. There were also a number failures of the system.

“It was established that the decision not to prosecute in the case of Child B was made due to factors other than garda delay.

“It is the opinion of the GSOC investigation that no blame can be attributed to any garda members in this regard.”

In their conclusion, GSOC said that “no garda member could be singled out and held to account for the delay in this investigation”.

Considering the available information and evidence established by the investigation, the Ombudsman Commission is of the view that a serious failure of the system occurred in this case. This occurred from shortcomings in garda internal communication, external communication, policy, directives, training and guidance at the time of the reported incidents.

The report has eight recommendations for changing the system.

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