Saturday 24 June 2017

Retired teacher guilty of sex abuse that left victim 'in a living hell'

Leo Hickey Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Limited
Leo Hickey Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Limited
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A retired teacher was convicted of sexually assaulting a nine year old former pupil who described the abuse as leaving him enduring "a living hell."

Leo Hickey (77) was convicted by unanimous verdict of a Cork Circuit Criminal Court jury on eight counts of sexually assaulting the former student in a primary school in 1991 and 1992.

The jury of seven women and five men deliberated on their verdict for an hour and five minutes after a day long trial.

The complainant, Daniel Kelleher (34), waived his right to anonymity as he said he wanted to put what happened behind him. Mr Kelleher of Ballincollig, Co Cork became very emotional when the unanimous guilty verdicts were returned.

Judge Sean O'Donnabhain remanded Mr Hickey of Realt na Mara, Skevanish, Innishannon, Co Cork in custody for sentencing on May 9 next.

Mr Hickey pleaded not guilty to eight counts of sexual assault before Cork Circuit Criminal Court. The charges involved one individual and all related to various dates between November 1991 and June 1992.

The complainant was aged between nine and 10 years when the incidents occurred.

All the charges related to Scoil Eoin Boys National School in Ballincollig, Co Cork.

The complainant told the trial he was "abused and molested" by Mr Hickey. He claimed the teacher fondled his private parts. On another occasion, he claimed the teacher put a tin whistle inside his trousers, took it out and then handed it to the boy, asking him to play 'Amazing Grace' on it.

When the boy refused, he was given lines as a punishment.

He said the teacher also attempted to grab his penis while they were out on a football pitch and he was so uncomfortable he ran back to class.

"It was a living hell," he said. "I believe that what happened to me as a boy made me go down a dark path. My life stopped then."

The young man said the defendant used to tell him he was "a good boy" and "special" during the abuse incidents.

"Looking back now, it was grooming," he said.

The complainant said he was bullied by other students on the basis he was perceived as "the teacher's pet."

Mr Hickey denied that the sexual assaults ever occurred and said he didn't even remember the complainant.

Judge O'Donnabhain remanded Mr Hickey in custody for sentencing in May to allow for the preparation of a victim impact statement.

Irish Independent

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