herald

Monday 24 September 2018

Grandfather in Dalkey baby tragedy dies

THE FATHER of the woman who claimed her newborn baby was murdered in the Dalkey "House of Horrors" has died.

Peter Murphy Snr's death has thrown into doubt a legal challenge that he was taking against the findings of an inquest held two years ago.

The inquest found his daughter Cynthia Owen was the mother of an unidentified infant found stabbed to death in a laneway in Dun Laoghaire in 1973.

During the 2007 hearing, a jury at Dublin County Coroner's Court was told a horrific tale of infanticide, sodomy and rape at Ms Owen's family home in Dalkey. She claimed she was repeatedly raped and conceived her baby daughter, Noleen, as a result of sexual abuse.

Peter Murphy Snr and three of Ms Owen's sisters made a High Court bid to have the jury's findings overturned. That action may now be in jeopardy following Murphy's death over Christmas.

The jury unanimously concluded that the baby found in Dun Laoghaire was Ms Owen's. They also found that the place of death was a house at White's Villas in Dalkey on April 4, 1973.

In law, an inquest jury cannot apportion blame, so an open verdict was returned.

Although the jury didn't specify who killed the child, Ms Owen in her evidence said the infant had been stabbed to death with a knitting needle by her own mother, and the body dumped in a nearby laneway.

Before reaching their decision, the jury had heard Ms Owen allege that she was raped repeatedly from the age of seven or eight into her teenage years by four different people.

The inquest came a year after gardai dug up the back garden of the Dalkey house in search of the remains of a second child. No human remains were recovered in the search.

Murphy and Ms Owen's three sisters argued in their challenge that Dublin County Coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty was biased. They also contended that the coroner was wrong to keep from the jury several conflicting statements Ms Owen made.

The High Court review was due to get under way on March 31, but it is not known if this will now go ahead as planned.

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