ONE of the most vicious paedophiles ever to work in an Irish child care institution was Duncan McInnes, who was director of Trudder House until he mysteriously left the country in 1981.
McInnes, who fled to Scotland in 1981 and died in Canada in 1990 in his early 50s, had brutally beaten his victims black and blue before raping and sexually assaulting them throughout his six-year stint in charge at the Co Wicklow centre.
He was one of six people connected with the former traveller children's home against whom complaints were made during a painstaking garda investigation involving more than 200 witnesses.
But Galwayman Brendan Kelly, sentenced to seven years imprisonment yesterday on two counts of attempted buggery, remains the only person to be charged with sexual offences at the Newtownmountkennedy institution.
McInnes had already fled the jurisdiction by the time Kelly began working at the home.
The Irish Independent has learned that English-born McInnes emerged as the central figure in the criminal investigation, and it was only when gardai started trying to track him down that they learned of his death in Canada in 1990.
They also learned that he had continued to be involved in child care in Scotland when he left Ireland. He later moved from Scotland to Canada a short time before his death, and there were reports that he had been involved in child abuse in both those jurisdictions.
Four of the six people against whom complaints were made were young residents of Trudder House, victims of McInnes who had in turn begun to abuse other boys in the late '70s and early '80s. The Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to bring charges against these four.
In 1975, a genuinely caring voluntary group called the Dublin Committee for Travelling People, co-founded by former Bewley's Café owner Victor Bewley, took over Trudder House to provide accommodation for young traveller boys who had difficult home circumstances or who had appeared before the courts.
Tragically, Duncan McInnes was appointed director of the facility and began his reign of terror. He had a background in childcare in Scotland, where his name has also emerged since in connection with separate child abuse investigations.
Without naming him, prosecuting barrister Michael McDowell SC referred in court yesterday to McInnes' brutal regime.
``In fairness to the accused (Kelly),'' said Mr McDowell, ``far more serious offences against young children were detected and the perpetrator of these offences was identified but went abroad and has since died.
``He was in a position of authority before the accused was employed there from 1975 to 1981 and those offences involved violence and sexual abuse of children.''
Supt Gerry Blake said that in 1987, one of Kelly's victims made a complaint about him to one of the people in charge at Trudder House. That led to an internal inquiry during which Kelly was suspended, but gardai were not informed. He later left the institution and had not seek to become involved in child care since.
Supt Blake said it was not until two days before Christmas 1994 that the first complaint in relation to sexual abuse at Trudder House was made to gardai.
Mr McDowell said that as a result of that, more than 200 witnesses were interviewed ``in an investigation into Trudder House in its entirety''.
By mid-1995 however, 19 young travellers had made allegations of sexual abuse against six people associated with the residential home McInnes, Kelly and four former residents. The DPP decided not to proceed against these four.
A spokesperson for an organisation called Traveller Families' Care yesterday said the verdict closed ``a painful chapter in the history of our organisation relating to the early 1980s''.