Saturday 21 October 2017

Sports journalist Tom Humphries exchanged 16,000 text messages with teenage victim, court hears

  • Sentencing adjourned to later this month
  • Court hears of thousands of messages sent between Christmas 2008 and March 2011
  • Writer pleaded guilty to six offences relating to defilement and sexual exploitation of child
  • Victim says Humphries actions led to loss of her childhood and thanked Humphries family for alerting gardaí
  • Humphries wrote letter of apology for victim who did not wish to see it
Tom Humphries. Photo: Collins Courts
Tom Humphries. Photo: Collins Courts
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Prominent journalist and author Tom Humphries exchanged 16,000 text messages in just four months with a teenage girl he has admitted defiling and sexually exploiting.

These included explicit pictures Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard.

The disclosure came as a sentencing hearing for the former Irish Times sports writer got underway today.

Judge Karen O'Connor adjourned sentencing to later this month as she wishes to consider documentation handed into court and evidence given in mitigation.

At his own request Humphries was taken into custody after the hearing ended.

Humphries (54), with an address in Sutton, Dublin, pleaded guilty to six sex offences at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court last March.

During today's hearing prosecution counsel Shane Costelloe SC led Garda Jarlath Burke through the evidence in the case.

The barrister said the text messages were exchanged between Christmas 2008 and March 2011. The contact began when she was 14.

Between December 2010 and March 2011 over 16,000 texts were exchanged on a roughly 50/50 basis.

He outlined how there were periods during which the text messages were highly sexualised in nature.

The barrister said Humphries arranged to pick her up in his car from outside her school on December 5, 2010, when she was 16. He brought her back to his apartment where sex acts were performed.

Earlier Mr Costelloe told Judge  O’Connor that he had been handed a bundle of documents by the defence comprising around 50 pages.

He said these included a letter written by Humphries addressed to his victim.

Mr Costelloe described it was “a quite personal letter” of apology.

He said that in the past the issue of direct contact or perceived direct contact between a defendant and their victim had been viewed by courts as being problematic.

The barrister asked the judge to decide if it was appropriate for the letter to be given to the victim.

He later told the judge that the victim did not want to see the letter.

The victim did not address the court.

However, in a victim impact statement she said Humphries' actions had led "to the loss of my childhood".

"Dealing with sexual encounters with a man three times my age made me physically, mentally and emotionally ill," she said.

She added that she had been left with self doubt and a loss of confidence.

She said she had been an able to continue playing a sport she loved, had lost out on holidays, college exams and trips abroad.

The young woman said she was grateful to the Humphries family as they had alerted gardaí.

"Without them reporting this I do not know where I would be today. I hope you can all get past this and go on to live a normal and healthy life," she said.

Hugh Hartnett SC, for Humphries, said his client was "truly remorseful".

He said Humphries had attempted suicide twice and was at risk of a further attempt.

Mr Harnett said his client had refused treatment for depression as he believed this would make him feel happier.

He said his client did not want to feel happier and wanted to feel pain for what he did.

Humphries attended court for today’s hearing.

He wore a blue shirt, patterned tie, navy suit jacket, black trousers and black Nike runners.

Last March, he admitted to six charges when he was arraigned.

Two of the charges related to engaging in a sexual act with a girl under the age of 17 on or about December 5, 2010 and February 19, 2011.

The sexual acts occurred at an apartment in Dublin.

The other four charges admitted by him were of sexually exploiting the same child by inviting her to engage or participate in a sexually explicit, indecent or obscene act on or about January 1, 2010 February 15, 2011 and March 4 and 18 the same year.

At that hearing Mr Humphries only spoke in court to say “guilty” after each of the six charges was put to him.

A number of other charges on the indictment are to be taken into account when he is being sentenced.

Humphries was arrested in relation to child sex allegations in September 2012 but the matters did not come to court until earlier this year.

Humphries' former employer, The Irish Times, issued a statement following today's proceedings.

The company said that Tom Humphries has not written for The Irish Times since early 2011.

In a statement, it said that he joined The Irish Times as a sports reporter on March 1st, 1992.

"In March 2011, the company was advised of serious allegations against the journalist and the commencement of a criminal investigation by the Garda. He has not written for The Irish Times since then.

"He was suspended from employment by The Irish Times on March 31st, 2014 when he was formally charged with criminal offences.

"His employment was terminated with immediate effect on March 8th, 2017 after he had pleaded guilty to charges at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court."

The company said the disclosure that Humphries was the subject of serious allegations and of a criminal investigation was a source of shock and distress to his colleagues.

It added: “This matter has been treated with the utmost seriousness throughout. The Irish Times, in its response, has been guided by the provisions of employment legislation and the requirement to allow the criminal justice system to proceed without interference. The company fully co-operated with the Garda at all times during its investigations.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this letter please contact Samaritans helpline 116 123 or Aware helpline 1800 80 48 48 or Pieta House on 1800 247 247

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