Thursday 23 May 2019

'I will never forgive him' - Victims speak out as former army officer who sexually abused them as teens is jailed

Central Criminal Court, Dublin. (stock photo)
Central Criminal Court, Dublin. (stock photo)

Fiona Ferguson

A former army officer who groomed and sexually abused two teenage boys during the 1990s has been jailed for 11 years.

Timothy O'Sullivan (66) subjected the two boys to repeated sexual assault, oral and anal rape and threatened them they would be shot or buried in the mountains.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt commended the bravery of the two victims in coming forward and noted their “courageous” victim impact statements.

The men outlined the devastating effect of the abuse on their lives in the statements prepared for the sentencing hearing and both said they would never forgive O'Sullivan.

“I will carry this with me for the rest of my life and will never forgive him,” wrote one of the men.

O'Sullivan, of Marlborough Road, Dublin pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to sexual assault, oral and anal rape of the two boys on dates between 1991 and 1996 at locations in Dublin.

O'Sullivan was in his forties at the time while the boys were aged between 13 and 16 years old.

The court heard that a pattern developed of O'Sullivan buying the boys alcohol. The sexual abuse occurred at various locations including O'Sullivan's home, a commercial bathhouse, car parks, pubs and hotel rooms.

Mr Justice Hunt said the aggravating features of the case included the fact that the victims had been “effectively groomed” and O'Sullivan had taken advantage of certain personal vulnerabilities in the boys. He noted the “horrifying and disgusting” nature of the abuse.

He said there was no doubt that the boys had been targeted by O'Sullivan with a view to abusing them. He also took into account the young age of the victims and the abuse of trust involved.

The judge noted the “inherent degradation” of the abuse and the fact the boys had been given alcohol which sometimes made them very sick.

Mr Justice Hunt noted the mitigating factors in the case including the guilty pleas which he said signalled to the victims that their account was accepted as being true and valid. He imposed sentences totalling 11 years.

Sean Gillane SC, defending, said O'Sullivan had grown up in West Cork and joined the army as cadet where he was a officer for twenty years. He said O'Sullivan had served with distinction and had been on one of the first tours of Lebanon.

He said on leaving the army O'Sullivan had built up some business interests including a guest house, restaurant and licensed premises but much of this was lost during the recession.

He said O'Sullivan's admissions of guilt and acknowledgement of these events had “sundered” his relationships. He said his client had a chronic problem with alcohol over several decades.

Counsel said O'Sullivan was very ashamed for what he had done and the hurt he had caused.

The court heard both victims had undergone counselling which they paid for themselves. One man said this had been a “huge expense” and the second man described how he had to stop counselling as he could no longer afford it.

Detective Garda Gerard Hickey told Mary Rose Gearty SC, prosecuting, the investigation began when one of the victims made a complaint to gardai in 2011. This lead to a second victim coming forward and making very similar complaints in 2013.

The first victim described how the accused man had taken a “special interest” in him and a pattern developed of drinking with O'Sullivan. He said he was abused on a weekly basis over an eight month period until his mother confronted O'Sullivan.

This victim told gardaí that he had been warned that the “Wicklow mountains are a big place” and that people go missing. He said he understood he was being told to keep his mouth shut.

The second boy was abused by O'Sullivan over a period of three years and outlined a similar pattern of being given alcohol. He described the abuse as occurring on an almost daily basis in the final two years and said he had not gone more than two or three weeks at a time without an incident.

The first victim outlined in his victim impact statement that the abuse had a devastating effect on his life. He said he had gone from being a quiet 14 year old to a person bordering on alcoholism.

He described the effect the abuse had on his health, family life, relationships and education. He said it had turned him into "a drunk and a liar" affecting his relationship with everyone he knew.

He said O'Sullivan had continually threatened him, leaving him terrified. He said O'Sullivan had told him he would "bury me in the Dublin mountains"

The man wrote: ""I will never forgive that man for what he did to me"

The second victim said he had carried the burden of the abuse in secret for years. He said O'Sullivan had exposed him to things no teenager should experience or witness.

He outlined the effects on his life and said his ability to trust had been ruined. He said he had trusted O'Sullivan and that had been used against him. He said O'Sullivan had wrecked his life and that of his family.

“I felt responsible at the time but now see the only person responsible is Timothy O'Sullivan,” he said. “I will carry this with me for the rest of my life and will never forgive him.”

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