Courts

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Paedophile GAA coach found guilty of 53 sex attacks on young boys

Greg Harkin

Published 14/05/2014|02:30

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Ronan McCormack who was found guilty of 53 counts of indecent assault at Sligo Circuit Court

A VICTIM of a paedophile GAA coach wept after their abuser was found guilty of sickening sex attacks on them.

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Under-12s Gaelic football manager Ronan McCormack showed no reaction as a jury returned guilty verdicts on 53 out of 54 allegations of sexual assault against five boys in the 1980s.

The 71-year-old had abused the boys when they were aged between nine and 13 over seven years.

They were abused at various locations including at McCormack's home and beside a lake. None of the attacks took place at the GAA club.

The coach, from Cuppanagh, Cloonloo, Co Sligo, had groomed his victims by taking them to see big football matches in Croke Park. He would insist his victims stay at his home the night before matches.

He would then strip naked and get into bed with them and then sexually abuse them.

Three of the victims were in court as the jury of 11 men and one woman gave their verdict after a two-week trial.

One of them wept after the verdict was reached after three hours and 54 minutes of deliberation.

During the trial one of the victims, now aged 43, told Judge Petria McDonnell, how McCormack had assaulted him for the first time when the coach persuaded him to look at a county championship medal.

"He pulled me towards him. He was sitting on his bed, he put his left arm around me and started groping me around the trousers with his left hand," the victim said.

"I was wearing long trousers. I was 11. I didn't know what was going on."

He said his GAA coach had showed him a text book about "what the birds and bees do."

The 43-year-old went on: "I asked him did he ever do it himself and he said he did and it felt good."

After the incident, McCormack had put his bicycle into the boot of his car and drove him home.

"He came in to meet my mum, who always made tea for him," he said.

The victim said there was another indecent assault when the coach brought him to a lake where he used to fish, but without bringing any fishing rods.

A number of victims told how McCormack took them to All-Ireland finals and semi-finals at Croke Park, but he had abused them the night before the matches.

At the end of the trial at Sligo Circuit Court yesterday, Judge Petria McDonnell told the jury: "The complainants in this case were dishonoured as children and you have now honoured them in your work as jurors."

Eileen O'Leary SC, prosecuting for the DPP, applied to the court for McCormack to be remanded in custody.

She also asked for an order banning identification of McCormack to be lifted, saying the victims wished to remain anonymous but they wanted their abuser named.

Defence counsel Delia Flynn applied for bail ahead of a sentencing hearing and also that McCormack's identity remain hidden until that hearing on June 17.

Judge McDonnell remanded McCormack on continuing bail to allow him to settle his affairs.

However, she said the media could now identify him.

The judge praised gardai for the diligent and sensitive way they had handled the case.

Irish Independent

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