Sunday 11 December 2016

Convicted sex offender (69) lured boy into his campervan with treats and began abusing him when he was only five years old

Sonya McLean

Published 01/07/2016 | 19:18

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A convicted sex offender who was a highly trusted member of his local community in Cork has been jailed for four years for sexually abusing two young boys.

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The 69-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victims, pleaded guilty on the morning of his trial at the Central Criminal Court to three charges of sexual abuse on dates between January 1991 and May 1991 while the boys were aged five and 14 years old.

The youngest victim, now 30 years old, said the man lived in a camper van next to his parent's home. He said he was a friend of his parents and said “they trusted him so I trusted him”.

In his victim impact statement he said that the man would entice him into the van with treats and would perform tricks for the children. This victim was aged five when the man began abusing him.

This went on for a few months until the victim realised it was wrong so he stopped going to his van. The victim was always alone during the assaults.

The second man, now a 40-year old father of four, said the man sexually abused him after asking the then 14-year-old to steer his van home from the pub because he was too drunk to drive. He operated the pedals while the teenager sat on his lap at the steering wheel.

The man ripped open his trousers and molested him, causing the boy to take his hands off the wheel which led to him crashing the van.

Both victims spoke about how the man was very much a trusted man of the community. “People felt he was so trustworthy they would allow their children alone with him without question,” the older man said in his statement.

“I had looked on him as part of my family. I lost many friendships because we told others what he was like,” the man continued.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt said today the maximum sentence for the offence at the time was five years but he would use his discretion to impose consecutive terms.

He added that he had to sentence on “the applicable law and not as a result of my own view on the matter” before he sentenced the man to consecutive terms totalling four years having taken into account the man's pleas of guilty.

He said the abuse of the first and youngest victim was at the upper end of the scale, noting that the man had “gulled him into his confidence by doing tricks and providing sweets”.

He said it was also very advanced sexual conduct for an adult to subject a young child to and noted “the obvious, profound and prolonged damage” his actions caused the victim.

Mr Justice Hunt said although the sexual assault of the second victim was as serious an offence, the abuse itself was somewhat lesser and the boy was older.

At the sentence hearing last week Mr Justice Hunt thanked both men for the victim impact statements.

He told the younger man “you have nothing to reproach yourself for, you were a very young child. Hopefully you will be able to move on and not be overly influenced by it. You can never turn back the clock but you have a life to live.”

Mr Justice Hunt told the second man that the accused's plea of guilty was “vindication that you were both telling the truth about these matters”.

A local investigating garda told Tim O'Leary SC, prosecuting, that the younger man made a statement to gardaí in September 2011.

The man was arrested in October 2013 following a garda investigation and the second victim made a complaint a week later. A file was sent forward to the Director Public Prosecutions in relation to both victims but the man had left Ireland.

A European Arrest Warrant was secured and he was located, with the assistance of Interpol, on the Portuguese/Spanish border. He was arrested by Portuguese police on October 22, 2014 and returned to Ireland in December 2014. He had been remanded in custody since.

The court heard that the man has 48 previous convictions including a four month jail sentence for sexually assaulting a male in England.

Elizabeth O'Connell SC, defending, said her client was originally from England and was not in good health.

She asked the court to take into account that the man was not on bail when he left Ireland and the garda evidence that he didn't come to adverse attention for 26 years.

The younger man said in his victim impact statement that the man returned to the area when he was 12 years old and that had massive impact in him.

“I felt alone and hopeless. I was blaming myself for being in his company. I felt I couldn't tell anyone because he was so well liked. I felt infected and worthless and developed an eating disorder and a hatred towards my parents”.

“I had nightmares during which I saw me as being small and him being so large. I had feelings of being trapped.”

He said he felt he couldn't connect with his feelings during a previous relationship with a “lovely women”. “I believe I was damaged through my sexual abuse”.

The man said he had since had many counselling sessions and believed he was not affected by it anymore. He said he hoped he had the confidence now to go further in his education and career.

He concluded his statements by saying that he had waited for five years for “this outcome” and thanked his family and friends for their loyalty.

The second man said he carried this “dark secret”, had abused substances and ended up in court in trouble with the gardaí.

He said he has since beaten his addiction but was very over protective of his children. He said he asked himself “why did he do this to me and cause such pain” but he now believed he was strong enough to continue with his life.

He thanked his family for “their support and patience with me and everyone involved in the court for bringing out justice today”.

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