Wednesday 21 November 2018

'I'm not a scared kid anymore' - Amy Gilligan speaks out as attacker seeks to remove name from sex offenders register

Amy Gilligan waived her right to anonymity to raise issues over offenders coming off the sex offenders register. Photo: Arthur Carron
Amy Gilligan waived her right to anonymity to raise issues over offenders coming off the sex offenders register. Photo: Arthur Carron
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A young woman who was raped at the age of 11 has waived her right to anonymity in a bid to ensure victims are notified if their attacker seeks to be removed from the sex offenders register.

Amy Gilligan (28), originally from Athlone, Co Westmeath, but now living in Dublin, was raped by a teenage boy whose mother was babysitting her at the time.

Andrew Cox, also from Athlone, was 16 when he assaulted the young girl in his bedroom on May 9, 2001. He pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court in 2003 and was sentenced to five years in prison, with the last two suspended.

Through word of mouth in her hometown, Ms Gilligan learned that Cox had applied to the courts to be removed from the sex offenders register last year.

She contacted Athlone garda station to ask about the process and decided to attend the hearing on May 30, 2017. She also wrote a letter to the judge outlining her objections to Cox being removed from the register.

Now, more than a year after the court ruled that Cox's name was to remain on the register, Ms Gilligan has decided to speak out.

"I, and a lot of people I have spoken to, didn't actually know you could apply to come off the register," she said. "The weird thing is the guards don't notify a victim when that happens, it seems to be a secret thing, and for me that was a bit of a shock."

Under the Sex Offenders Act 2001, a convicted sex offender may apply to the courts, 10 years after their release from prison, to no longer be required to report a change of address to gardaí or notify them when they are leaving the country for more than seven days.

"I would have been around 13/14 during the original court case and I didn't have to go. He was quite shocked when he saw me in court that day (last year)," she told the Irish Independent.

"I would have seen him a couple of times walking around at home, but there was never any engagement. He would usually go red and walk away.

"I don't think it's fair they can do that (apply to be removed from the register) so privately, and the opinion of the injured party is not taken into consideration.

"I'm a grown woman now, I'm not a scared kid any more...this is about other people. I'm not bitter, I don't want to ruin his life in any shape or form, he has done his time, it's more about the law and the rights of victims and others."

Irish Independent

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