Sunday 19 January 2020

Teacher (65) who sexually abused boy and threatened to kill victim and his mother jailed

High Court in Dublin
High Court in Dublin

Tim Healy

A Sunday school teacher who sexually abused a boy who regularly stayed overnight in his home must pay his victim €330,000 in damages following a High Court decision.

Thomas Garvan (65), Corbally Glade, Westbrook Glen, Tallaght, Dublin, was jailed for four-and--a-half years last year - reduced on appeal to three years-and-nine months - after he pleaded guilty to abusing the boy 20 years ago. 

Garvan, who was a trusted family friend of the boy, admitted seven sample charges of sexually abusing him on dates between December 1996 and October 1999. The boy was between 11 and 14 years old when he would stay on Friday and Saturday night in Garvan's then home.

Garvan, the High Court heard, had groomed him from the age of ten and engaged in masturbation of the boy and himself. He threatened the boy he would kill both him and his mother if he told anyone.

The now 33-year-old man never told anyone of the abuse and went "off the rails" leaving school at 14 and abusing alcohol and narcotics from the age of 17. 

He tried three times to kill himself but was unsuccessful. 

In 2013, he told his then partner what had happened to him and a prosecution ensued with Garvan pleading guilty. 

The court heard however that Garvan wrote a letter to him, after he was prosecuted, telling him he was lying and that he was "in danger of losing your soul" because of it. The man told the court he was "disgusted" by this.

He sued over the abuse and last year judgment in default was entered against Garvan who is still in prison, was not represented in the civil proceedings, and took no steps to defend them. He owns his own home outright, the court heard.

On Wednesday, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan assessed damages to date at €200,000 plus €100,000 for damages into the future.

The judge was satisfied what he described as the horrific abuse suffered by the plaintiff, although not at the extreme end of the scale, resulted in lasting damage to his life and education. He suffered severe emotional trauma which will affect him for the rest of his life, he said.

The judge earlier congratulated the young man on getting his life together after going to live in the UK where he was re-united with his father who left when he was a four-year-old boy. 

He was now employed by his father in a responsible role. The abuse of alcohol and narcotics to try to block out the memory of his abuse had ended, and he had been clean for over a year, the judge said.

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