Sunday 24 September 2017

Christian Brother guilty of abusing boy who was jailed for taking bike

Ann Healy

A former Christian Brother has been found guilty of sexually abusing a boy in Letterfrack Industrial School in Connemara during the 1960s.

Robert Doherty (72), from the Falls Road in Belfast, with an address at Glenwood Estate, Dundalk, Co Louth, had denied six charges of indecently assaulting the boy.

They were said to have taken place on various dates between August 1965 and April 1967, in a bedroom beside the boy's dormitory in the institution.

Evidence had been heard during the three-day trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court that Doherty nicknamed his victim 'Tuppence' after telling him that he was not worth tuppence.

In a low, dignified, gravelly voice, the victim, who is now 59, told the jury he had been sentenced to four years' detention in Letterfrack when he was nine and a half, for stealing a bicycle from outside a church during morning Mass, which he returned later that day to his local garda station.

Isolated

He said he was brought on the train by gardai with another small boy as far as Galway and a Christian Brother brought them the rest of the way to the isolated Connemara institution on December 23, 1963.

He said he was very small for his age and encountered only one Christian Brother during his four years there who was kind to him.

That Brother, he said, had been in charge of the small boys' dormitory and the abuse only began when Doherty was put in charge of both the big and small boys' dormitories in 1965.

For the next two years, he said, from the age of 12 until he was released in April 1967, he was systematically abused two to three times a week.

Doherty denied ever laying a finger on the victim and said no boy had ever stood in his bedroom in Letterfrack.

Judge Rory McCabe remanded Doherty on continuing bail to await sentence on May 15, and directed the preparation of a victim impact statement.

Irish Independent

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