Thursday 21 November 2019

'He will die in prison' - scout leader is jailed for sex abuse

Jailed: David O’Brien was sentenced to six-and-a-half years
Jailed: David O’Brien was sentenced to six-and-a-half years
Brave: Abuse victim Robert Keogh waived his right to anonymity. Photo: Owen Breslin
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

A man who was molested by a former scout leader when he was just seven years old has said he expects his abuser to die in prison.

David O'Brien (67), of Benburb Street in Dublin, was yesterday jailed for six-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to indecently assaulting four boys on scouting trips between 1972 and 1981.

The paedophile has already served a prison term for indecently assaulting six boys, and has admitted to gardaí that he abused between 30 and 40 children.

His youngest victim, Robert Keogh, who waived his right to anonymity, told the Irish Independent how O'Brien would tell the children ghost stories to terrify them before exploiting that fear and abusing them.

"It was all very insidious, he would bring you out and pick you out and alienate you, he'd tell you ghost stories, 'The Blue Lady' was one. He would terrify you in the forest in the dark; the noise of the animals, the whole thing was just terrifying.

"Even to this day, when I bring my own children out for a walk the noise of the wind and the trees in the park always reminds me of him," Mr Keogh said.

"I'm just glad it's put to bed now, it's dragged on for so long.

"It was very hard to come forward because it's bothered me all of my life.

"He was hoping to get the longest sentence possible so he can die in the Midlands Prison, he's being fed and looked after.

"If I get sick I've to pay for a doctor, he gets free medical aid. He's 67 now, he looks a lot older. He'll die in prison," he added.

Mr Keogh was just seven years old when he was molested by O'Brien while on his first camping trip in Co Wicklow in the early 1970s.

Yesterday, Judge Karen O'Connor sentenced O'Brien to a total of eight years' imprisonment, with the final 18 months suspended.

He had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to eight counts of indecent assault relating to four boys on dates between January 1, 1972, and December 31, 1981.

The court heard how one of the victims reported the abuse in 1997 and O'Brien was interviewed.

The paedophile told gardaí that, while he did not recall the alleged abuse, he was not denying it.

O'Brien also told gardaí that at that time he had been "molesting" a number of young boys in the scouts and the molestations had been going on for 10 years. He said he left one scout group when a parent confronted him, but a friend got him into another group where he continued to molest boys.

A file was submitted to the DPP and a direction was given not to prosecute the case, but the file was resubmitted when more victims came forward.

When O'Brien was re-interviewed about the allegations in 2016, he admitted to abusing between 30 and 40 boys.

After sentencing O'Brien, Judge Karen O'Connor commended the investigative work of Detective Garda Neil Plunkett, and told the victims: "None of this is your fault."

Irish Independent

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