An elderly man described as "a serious risk to young children" has been jailed for six years, with the final 18 months suspended, for sexually assaulting boys.
Douglas Taffe (77), who has multiple convictions for sexual offences against children dating back almost 50 years, was sentenced at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court after he pleaded guilty to repeatedly abusing two schoolboys in the city over a three-week period between October and November last year.
Taffe, of no fixed abode, befriended his victims, who were aged nine and 10 at the time, by rewarding them with cigarettes, money, crisps and soft drinks.
The State accepted his guilty plea to six sample charges, after he had initially appeared before Limerick court last February charged with a total of 19 counts of sexually assaulting young boys.
Detective Garda Mark Deasy previously told the court the offences happened on a daily basis. He said Taffe first met the boys, who can't be named in order to protect their identity, when they were fishing at Canal Bank, Limerick, during their mid-term break from school.
Det Gda Deasy said the defendant would lure the boys to an area located off the main canal walkway to where a makeshift hut was located.
While there, he would put his hands down the boys' pants. Taffe also forced the two boys to kiss him on the lips, the court heard.
Gardai became aware of the offences when the mother of one of the boys confronted Taffe after her son told her that he had given him cigarettes and that Taffe had arranged for them to meet up again.
Judge Carroll Moran was told Taffe had 26 previous convictions relating to sexual offences which happened on dates between January 1, 1966, and February 23, 2008.
The offences, which happened at locations in Limerick, Cork, Tipperary and Kilkenny include rape, sexual assault and the indecent assault of a number of different boys and girls.
John O'Sullivan, prosecuting, said that although the offences first began in 1966, Taffe's first conviction was not recorded until 1999.
Judge Moran said Taffe had been abused as a child when he was just six months old.
He told the court that substantial money which Taffe received from the Residential Institutions Redress Board had been used to pay compensation to one of his own victims.
The judge noted that, according to a probation report, Taffe was at a "high-risk" of re-offending and that the assaults on the two boys happened while Taffe was under supervision by the probation services.
"He shows no willingness to address his behaviour. These offences were pre-meditated and pre-planned," he said.
In sentencing Taffe, the judge said: "This man is a serious risk to young children, but I cannot commit him to jail forever.
"He's to be bound to the peace for six years. If he breaches this he may well have to serve out the suspended part of the sentence."
Mr Taffe gave an undertaking to agree to the terms of the suspended part of the sentence.