Wednesday 7 December 2016

Olympic coach gets six years for 35 counts of sexual abuse

Conor Kane

Published 29/01/2010 | 05:00

A FORMER Olympic swimming coach has been jailed for six-and-a-half years after being convicted of committing 35 counts of indecent and sexual assault against five boys in the 1980s and 1990s.

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The prison sentence marked a "terrible fall from grace" for Ger Doyle (49), who led the Irish swimming team to the Olympic games in Athens in 2004, his defence counsel said,

Doyle, of 7 Emmett Place, Wexford, had denied all the charges but was convicted by a jury last October. During yesterday's sentencing hearing at Wexford Circuit Court, Judge Alice Doyle told him that he had shown "a complete absence of insight or remorse".

The court heard that over a 12-year-period, Doyle abused his victims on a regular basis in the office of the public pool in New Ross, where he was manager.

The boys were aged between 10 and 15 when the sexual assaults took place.

Doyle was Wexford Person of the Year in 2004, the court was told -- just one year before allegations of sexual abuse came to light.

He was national swimming coach between 1992 and 2005 and had become manager of the New Ross pool in 1980 at the age of 19.

He is the third Olympic swimming coach to have been exposed as a child abuser in this country. George Gibney was accused of raping boys and girls before fleeing the country; and Derry O'Rourke was released from prison in 2008 after serving nine years for 149 counts of sexual assault.

Michael O'Kelly, defending, said his client had achieved a lot through hard work and dedication.

Trust

After he was appointed manager of the New Ross pool, he was made Leinster swimming coach in 1984 and became national senior coach in 1996.

Serious ill health, including leukaemia and a heart problem, prevented him from travelling to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney but he did travel to the Games in Athens.

"This has been a terrible fall from grace," Mr O'Kelly said, adding that his client had gone from being a national figure to "a pariah". He had no previous convictions.

The judge said Doyle had breached the trust of his victims and their families over a time period of more than 10 years, and the abuse was "pre-meditated and carefully planned".

She sentenced him to two years in relation to the offences committed against one of the victims, along with two 18-month sentences and two nine-month sentences, all to run consecutively.

Former Leinster swimming official Aidan O'Toole, the father of Olympic swimmer Gary O'Toole, said that the case represented a "victory" for the victims of sexual abuse.

Gary O'Toole was instrumental in exposing another national coach, George Gibney, as a child abuser and the O'Tooles have worked for years to get justice for abuse victims.

"It gives me personal satisfaction for my family and myself that another paedophile has been exposed in swimming," Aidan O'Toole said outside court.

He expressed disappointment, however, that Swim Ireland did not send a representative to the sentencing hearing.

Irish Independent

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