Saturday 18 November 2017

Seven-year jail sentence not enough, say victims of abuser

Victims Charlene Barrett (21) and Kelly Geraghty (20) speak to the media yesterday after their abuser Kevin Owen McDonnell, was jailed
for seven years on several counts of oral rape and sexual assault. Photo: COLLINS COURTS
Victims Charlene Barrett (21) and Kelly Geraghty (20) speak to the media yesterday after their abuser Kevin Owen McDonnell, was jailed for seven years on several counts of oral rape and sexual assault. Photo: COLLINS COURTS

Sonya McLean and Grainne Cunningham

TWO best friends abused by a barman when they were just eight- and nine-year-old girls yesterday criticised the brevity of the seven-year sentence he received yesterday.

Kelly Geraghty and Charlene Barrett, who waived their right to anonymity so their abuser could be named, said they had to live with the experience for the rest of their lives while he got just seven years.

Kevin Owen McDonnell (39), of Adhann Or, Bangor Erris, Co Mayo, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to 16 counts of sexual assault and 13 counts of oral rape against one girl; and 14 counts of sexual assault, 13 counts of oral rape and one count of anal rape against the second child on dates between June 1999 and September 2000.

He was convicted by a jury on all counts earlier last month.

Kelly, now 20, and Charlene, now 21, both also from Bangor Erris, said the jail term was too short, while they would have to live with the experience for their entire lives.

Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan praised the victims' great courage and resilience, adding that he hoped they could "build on these qualities, and with help and support, go on to lead less troubled lives".

The judge said he had taken into account McDonnell's lack of previous convictions, his good work record and the fact that his "eventual integration into real life" would be difficult.

He said the breach of trust involved in the case, was not as great as in other cases, because the girls had not been entrusted into McDonnell's care.

He sentenced McDonnell to seven years in relation to the anal rape count, six years for each of the oral rape charges and three years for the sexual assaults. He ordered that they be served concurrently and backdated the sentence to when he first went into custody.

The court heard that all parties in the case were from the same small town where Charlene's mother ran a hairdressers next to the West End pub where McDonnell was a barman.

In September 1999, the girls developed a habit of watching cartoons in the lounge area of the pub after school.

It was there, in a secluded area, that McDonnell first approached the girls and asked them had they ever seen a man's penis and did they know what sex was.

McDonnell then masturbated before forcing the girls to carry out sex acts on him.

The court heard of the "increasingly bold" and "depraved" nature and frequency of his attacks on the girls, which occurred "two to three times a week for a year."

McDonnell repeatedly threatened the girls to keep the abuse a secret and would regularly give them sweets and soft drinks.

Counsel described the offences as being on the upper end of the scale of seriousness and asked Mr Justice Sheehan to take into account the girls' young age, the depraved nature and frequency of the attacks and the fact that McDonnell abused both of the girls simultaneously.

Speaking after the sentencing, Ms Barrett said: "It is not enough for us for what he did to us. We will have to live with this for life and, my God, he is only getting five or seven years."

Ms Geraghty said they had "a bit" of closure and she was confident they could get on with their lives.

"We can finally move on and get on with our lives, look forward from now on."

Irish Independent

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