Thursday 27 April 2017

Judge orders paedophile to sell home to pay victim

Judge Jacqueline Linnane. Photo: CourtPix
Judge Jacqueline Linnane. Photo: CourtPix

Ray Managh and Saurya Cherfi

A judge has ordered the sale of the home of a convicted paedophile who sexually abused his nephew when he was six.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane said she was satisfied that John O'Neill had waited long enough to repay Keith Battersby the €100,000 damages that he was ordered to pay him four years ago.

Last year, Judge Linnane heard that O'Neill, now a 51-year-old jobless law student, had been paying his nephew €50 a week.

Barrister Cathy Smith, counsel for Mr Battersby, had 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 said Mr Battersby was seeking a well charging order against O'Neill's home at Sarsfield Park, Lucan, Co Dublin, and, if necessary, orders for possession and sale of it.

In 2012 Mr 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 old.

In July 2012 Mr 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 described his uncle as: "A monster who stole my childhood."

Last year, 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 that at the rate of €50 a week, 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 won't be around," the judge said.

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. She had adjourned the case to yesterday, when Judge Linnane said she was satisfied that the court had jurisdiction to deal with the matter.

She made an order directing the sale of O'Neill's house.

Refusing an application by O'Neill to allow a six-month stay on the order, until September, Judge Linnane said that a court ordered sale would not be concluded by that time anyway.

Irish Independent

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