Monday 25 June 2018

'I couldn't abandon him' - Journalist breaks silence on Tom Humphries reference

David Walsh wrote reference for paedophile Tom Humphries
David Walsh wrote reference for paedophile Tom Humphries

Amy Molloy and Shane Phelan

The chief sports writer for the Sunday Times has explained why he wrote a character reference for convicted paedophile Tom Humphries, saying: "I could not abandon him".

Shocking details emerged in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court this week as it was revealed the former Irish Times journalist sent over 16,000 text messages to a teenage girl he groomed and sexually abused.

David Walsh's explanation was published in an article in the Sunday Times today after he received backlash for providing a reference for the disgraced journalist.

"The young girl whose trust Tom betrayed has suffered terribly from this crime. I wrote a personal character reference for Tom because we have been friends for 30 years and, despite the serious wrong he has done, I could not abandon him," he said.

Tom Humphries pleaded guilty last March to two counts of engaging in a sexual act with a girl under the age of 17 and four counts of sexually exploiting the same child, but last week Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard further details of his offences. Photo: Collins
Tom Humphries pleaded guilty last March to two counts of engaging in a sexual act with a girl under the age of 17 and four counts of sexually exploiting the same child, but last week Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard further details of his offences. Photo: Collins

Earlier this week, Rape Crisis Networks Ireland expressed concerns about testimonials being provided in these kind of cases.

A prominent former hurler also wrote a letter of reference supporting the child sex abuser and he has so far declined to comment.

Mr Walsh previously declined to respond to requests for comment, while the Sunday Times said it was "looking into" the matter but they would not be commenting while the case is ongoing.

The journalist appears regularly in the Irish edition's sports pages. He also won an Irish newspaper industry award in 2013 for his work in exposing Lance Armstrong's doping.

Humphries's offences occurred in 2010 and 2011.

Gardaí first began investigating Humphries, a former sports writer, in March 2011 and arrested him in September 2012.

He pleaded guilty last March to two counts of engaging in a sexual act with a girl under the age of 17 and four counts of sexually exploiting the same child.

He is due to be sentenced later this month.

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