Friday 20 October 2017

Judge orders sale of convicted paedophile's home to pay nephew damages

Stock picture
Stock picture

Ray Managh and Saurya Cherfi

A judge today ordered sale of the home of a convicted paedophile.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane said she was satisfied that John O’Neill had waited enough to repay Keith Battersby, the nephew he sexually abused when the child was only six, the €100,000 damages that he was ordered to pay him four years ago.

Last year, Judge Linnane had heard that O’Neill, now a 51-year-old jobless law student, had been paying his nephew Battersby €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 86 Sarsfield Park, Lucan, Co Dublin 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 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 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 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.”

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 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 today.

Today Judge Linnane said she was satisfied the court had jurisdiction to deal with the matter and she made an order directing sale of O’Neill’s house.

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

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