'No justice' | 

Two senior gardaí 'interfered' in child abuse allegation investigation, court told

The alleged victim is suing for ‘negligence'

Shane Phelan

An alleged child sex abuse victim has claimed two senior gardaí unlawfully interfered in the investigation of her case to the extent that suspects were not brought to justice.

Allegations made in a lawsuit being taken by the now-adult complainant against Superintendent Michael Comyns and retired former superintendent John Quilter were outlined in the High Court yesterday.

Lawyers for the woman have asked the court to issue judgments in default against both men after they failed to enter appearances in the lawsuit.

The Garda Commissioner and the Justice Minister are also being sued in the action and have entered appearances.

During a brief hearing yesterday, Mr Justice Brian O’Moore was told by Patrick McCullough, counsel for the complainant, that the woman was the subject of sexual abuse when she was a minor.

“Essentially her claim is (that) the first and second named defendants, who were both members of An Garda Síochána at the time, unlawfully interfered in the investigation with a view to hampering the investigation, such that the perpetrators were not brought to justice,” Mr McCullough said.

He said the woman was alleging negligence, misfeasance of public office, and breaches of her constitutional rights.

The court heard that while the state defendants were represented by the Chief State Solicitor’s Office (CSSO), no appearance had been entered by Supt Comyns and Mr Quilter. Both men were said to have recently made contact with the CSSO regarding representation. The CSSO is still considering whether to come on record for them.

Mr Justice O’Moore adjourned the hearing of the motion to a date in July.

The woman is being represented by Frank Buttimer & Company Solicitors.

She alleges she was sexually abused by two men when she was aged 13 and 14. The matter was the subject of a garda investigation in Co Cork in 2012 which did not result in charges being brought.

A judge has previously described one of the suspects as an “associate” of Mr Quilter.

The woman’s lawsuit was initiated last June and followed claims made in a personal injuries action by a retired garda sergeant who investigated her case.

Paul Barry claims to have been the victim of a campaign of bullying, harassment and intimidation in which Supt Comyns played a prominent role, and that this got worse after he began investigating the child sex abuse complaint.

According to a High Court discovery ruling, it is alleged Mr Quilter attended at his associate’s home, advised him of the complaint, that he might be arrested and that he should get legal advice.

It said Supt Comyns decided not to arrest the suspect, but to have him interviewed voluntarily, at which point the suspect presented a prepared statement and offered no ­comment to all questions.

Mr Barry’s claims of bullying and harassment are set to be aired at the next module of the Disclosures Tribunal, which gets under way next week.

The DPP decided not to charge Supt Comyns with perverting the course of justice.

The discovery ruling said the DPP came to the view there was no evidence to corroborate an allegation that Mr Barry was pressurised to deal with the suspect in a particular way, insufficient evidence that anyone leaked information to the suspect, and that the evidence did not establish inappropriate contact between the two superintendents that would constitute an attempt to pervert the course of justice.

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