Friday 23 February 2018

'There is no such thing as somebody who is much more than a paedophile' - Barnados CEO Fergus Finlay on Tom Humphries

"This was a piece of calculated, purposeful, deliberate criminality over a long period of time that destroyed the life of a young person."

Barnardo's CEO Fergus Finlay
Barnardo's CEO Fergus Finlay

Sean Nolan

Barnados CEO Fergus Finlay has said he believes that paedophiles like Tom Humphries, because of the calculating nature of their crimes, have no redeeming features.

Finlay was speaking on Today with Sean O'Rourke on Radio 1 about the two-and-a-half year sentence handed down to convicted paedophile Tom Humphries yesterday.

While Finlay admitted he was always "very reluctant to second guess a judge" he went on to say "but I can't see any basis on which this sentence could be described as anything other than incredibly lenient."

He added: "This was a piece of calculated, purposeful, deliberate criminality over a long period of time that destroyed the life of a young person."

Finlay pointed out that new law in this area, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, contained sections that would fit this particular case if it happened today.

Finlay quoted section 8 of the act which states: 'A person who by means of information and communication technology communicates with another person (including a child) for the purpose of facilitating the sexual exploitation of a child by that person or any other person shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years.'

"It is at least arguable," Finlay said "that if a person were tried for grooming somebody using their mobile phone, making that person amenable to sexual abuse and controlling that child's life... if they were tried today under that legislation the judge would be looking at a maximum sentence of 14 years and I suspect the sentence would be an awful lot higher than the sentence handed out in this case."

The conversation then turned to paedophiles in general.

Earlier on the show, in a recorded interview, solicitor Dara Robinson of Sheehan and Partners told Sean O'Rourke that character references help the court see the "fuller picture of the person that is to be sentenced".

"It is important that the court is made aware that the person who is before the court is not just a paedophile, that the person is a more rounded character, had done some good, has enjoyed ordinary acquaintances, and ordinary social circles and that the person has some good characteristics."

Finlay emphatically disagreed with the view.

"I find it in inconceivable that anyone can come on the radio and talk about somebody who is much more than a paedophile," Finlay said.

"There is no such thing as somebody who is much more than a paedophile. A paedophile is somebody who calculates, who plans, who conspires, who spends as much time as necessary to get their way."

When he was asked by O'Rourke if he was saying that a paedophile can have no redeeming features, Finlay replied: "Yes I am. There are all sorts of crimes that people commit because they are mad in the moment, because they are desperate, because they are driven to the end of their tether by circumstances, all of that is understandable.

"But an act of murder than involves long, careful preparation is always seen as having no redeeming features.

"It's a mandatory life sentence.

"An act of sexual abuse that involves long, careful preparation, to the point where you have ended up in control of another person, total control of another person, that crime has no redeeming features whatsoever.

"I don't think it is possible, in that particular incidence, to separate that crime from the person."

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