Sunday 25 June 2017

A convicted paedophile pleads with judge not to lose his home

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Stock picture

Ray Managh

A convicted paedophile, who four years ago was ordered to pay €100,000 damages to the nephew he sexually abused when the child was only six, has pleaded with a judge not to do anything that could cause him lose his home.

John O’Neill, now a 51-year-old jobless law student, has been paying his nephew, Keith Battersby, €50 a week and faces an application for a well-charging order against his home at 86 Sarsfield Park, Lucan, Co Dublin, the Circuit Civil Court was told.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane said that at this rate it would take him almost 40 years paying off the debt.  By that time O’Neill would be 91 and his nephew 80 if both survived.  “And I certainly wont be around,” the judge said.

Barrister Cathy Smith, counsel for Mr Battersby, told the court that O’Neill had “sporadically and irregularly” been paying €50 a week to his nephew over the last four years with only €6,630 paid off the debt.

She was seeking a well charging order against O’Neill’s property and, if necessary, orders for possession and sale of it.

In 2012 Keith Battersby, then aged 36, of Coill Fada, Longwood, Co Meath, sued his uncle who, he said, had committed 12 sexual assaults on him between 1982 and 1984.

The abuse had occurred in O’Neill’s home and in the projection room of the Grove Cinema in Lucan where O’Neill worked at the time and had commenced when Mr Battersby was just six years.

In July 2012 Battersby sued O’Neill and the then High Court President, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, had awarded him €100,000 and costs for “horrific experiences.”

Ms Smith, who appeared with Pearse Mehigan Solicitors, said there was still about €93,000 outstanding and Mr Battersby wanted payment of the award so he could finally get on with his life.

O’Neill, who represented himself in the Circuit Civil Court, said he had pleaded guilty at The Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sexually assaulting his nephew.  He had been given a two year suspended sentence and had not defended his nephew’s claim for damages in 2012.

Following his conviction and articles about him in the Sunday World he had lost his job in a taxi calls centre and had since been on social welfare.  He was doing his best to pay off his nephew but did not want to lose his home.

O’Neill said he had been a law student for the last four years and hoped on qualification to get a job and pay off his debt to his nephew.  Following O’Neill’s conviction in the Circuit Criminal Court in 2010 Mr Battersby had described his uncle as: “A monster who stole my childhood.”

Judge Linnane said that with a judgment already against him his credit rating had gone and it was “fanciful” of him to think that in the future a bank would lend him the money to pay off the award.

She said he had told the court he wanted to deal honourably with the situation but had raised a challenge to the Circuit Court’s jurisdiction to deal with the matter.

Adjourning the proceedings into the New Year she said if he genuinely wanted to do the honourable thing he might consider consenting to the court being given unlimited jurisdiction to deal with Mr Battersby’s application.

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