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Former Marist brother acquitted of sex assault by direction of the trial judge

A FORMER Marist Brother and teacher accused of molesting four boys has been acquitted by direction of the judge because of “fundamental unfairnesses in the trial process.”

The 69-year-old Mayo man was accused of sexually abusing the children in his classroom in a Westmeath School.

He was alleged to have beaten the boys before putting them on his knee and abusing them while appearing to comfort them. The three day trial heard evidence from four men who claimed to have been abused in this way by the accused in the late seventies.

The accused had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 22 counts of indecent assault on the boys when they were pupils in his class and aged between nine and twelve. The abuse allegedly occurred in the classroom, on a school bus and in a residential house for the Marist Order between 1977 and 1980.

Following an application by defence counsel Remy Farrell SC, today Judge Carmel Stewart directed the jury to find him not guilty on all charges.

The judge ruled that the investigating garda had failed to record details of conversations he had had with some of the accused's alleged victims, five of whom were not part of the trial.

“To say there is a dearth of the specific in this case would be a gross understatement,” Judge Stewart commented.

She said the details of the investigating garda's contacts with the witnesses were not recorded, “except in the garda's head”, and this meant that the defence was able to test this evidence.

“The trial is unfair and must be brought to a conclusion,” the judge concluded.

Judge Stewart noted the four men had clearly undergone severe violence while in school but said that this was not unusual or illegal at the time, although it is now. She said the trial must be a “clinical” process to find the guilt or innocence of the accused.

Prosecuting counsel Bernard Condon SC told the judge that the DPP has the right to appeal her decision and asked that a transcript of the trial be made available in case they decide on that course.

Online Editors