A FORMER Bus Eireann driver who had sex with a schoolgirl on the back of his bus was jailed for 18 months yesterday.
Anthony Cheasty (49), from Marymount, Ferrybank, Waterford, will be placed on the sex offenders' register for 10 years because he had full intercourse with the girl -- then 16 -- after she developed a crush on him.
Cheasty, who has been involved with a Chernobyl children's charity and was a union official at executive level, was sentenced to a total of nine years in prison, at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court.
He received three-year sentences on three charges of the defilement of the girl.
However, they will run concurrently and the final 18 months were suspended. The maximum term of imprisonment, as laid out in the legislation, equates to five years on each count.
Judge Gerard Griffin yesterday morning said he was satisfied that the offences were in the "upper end of the scale".
The offences occurred at locations in Co Waterford in November and December 2008, while the girl was a school-going student who regularly travelled on the bus, Sergeant Donnacha Riordan said in evidence at the court on Tuesday.
Cheasty, a former Waterford Crystal worker who went on to become a truck and bus driver, was in charge of the public bus in a rural community when he had sex with the girl. He is a married man and has no previous convictions.
The girl developed a crush on Cheasty and wrote him a note, to which he responded later that day. It referred to the fact that a liaison between them would be illegal.
Prosecutor Noel Whelan told Judge Gerard Griffin that the contact began with "kissing and cuddling" on the bus and culminated in full sexual intercourse.
The girl's brother became concerned when he discovered notes belonging to his sister, and subsequently the matter was reported to gardai.
Judge Griffin yesterday said that "explicit texts and photo" messages were exchanged between Cheasty and the girl.
The girl's victim impact report revealed she had difficulty sleeping and had nightmares after being defiled. In her report she explained how she had little sense of security, while she "feels sick at the mention of it".
Cheasty, who resigned from Bus Eireann last year, handed over a sum of €5,000 to the girl in compensation last year.
The judge said an aggravating factor in the case was that Cheasty's actions were "not spontaneous" but were "pre-meditated", as he received the first note on the bus in the morning and "thought about it during the day".
In mitigation, Judge Griffin said that Cheasty made an "immediate confession".
In addition, the first contact was made by the victim and Cheasty had shown genuine remorse.