Friday 28 July 2017

Relentless paedophile tracked girl to her school and home

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

THE abuse started with sweets and treats at the side of the lake. Then he ruthlessly tracked his victim down to her school.

And finally he found his way into her final safe haven, her home.

Brendan Smyth was determined and single-minded in his seeking out of the young Dubliner Bernice Donoghue, whom he would abuse for five years.

The schoolgirl was on a family holiday in Co Cavan, near Kilnacrott Abbey, when the abuse began in the summer of 1969. She and other children flocked to the nearby lake to swim.

"It's ideal, children in togs. You can put your hands where you need them, want them," said Bernice who recounted her story on the 'Today with Pat Kenny' show on RTE yesterday.

"This was his way; friendly kissing, cuddling and it would progress from there. It's very hard for a child at that age to be able to deal with. I mean, kissing, hugging, sure. . . a relative would give you a kiss on the cheek. But this would then be grabbing and mauling and groping."

She returned to Dublin a few weeks later, hoping that would be the end of her ordeal. If only.

Instead, Smyth tracked her down to her primary school.

"We would be taken to the parlour where we would wait, singly, in the ante-room and he would see us individually," said Bernice.

Next he sought her out at her parents' house where, as a priest, he was welcomed. He took Bernice on outings and "it went on and on".

Almost 20 years later, Bernice suffered a breakdown and the memories resurfaced. Until then she had been in denial.

"Then when the flashbacks started, oh God, this was an awful lot worse than I remembered."

She found the courage to report the abuse to the gardai and her evidence formed the basis for one of the sample charges upon which Smyth was convicted in 1997. He died one month into his 12-year sentence.

Bernice decided to pursue a civil case against the Norbertine Order, who were responsible for Smyth and the Dominicans.

Bernice believes Cardinal Sean Brady is "criminally negligent" for failing to report Smyth to gardai.

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News