Tuesday 20 March 2018

Victims say swimming coaches had 'sinister' friendship

Derry O'Rourke (left) and Former swimming coach Ger Doyle outside court in Wexford yesterday for sentencing.

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

TWO former Irish Olympic coaches found guilty of abusing children and teenagers forged a sinister friendship as they trained young swimmers, victims said last night.

Close links between the two emerged after ex-Irish and Olympic coach Ger Doyle was jailed yesterday for six-and-ahalf years for abusing boys.

Victims said Doyle (51) was a friend of convicted child abuser and former national swimming coach Derry O'Rourke. One of Doyle’s victims confirmed his close relationship with O'Rourke. "They knew each other quite well, they were pally," he told the Irish Independent.

Doyle, of Emmet Place in Wexford, was found guilty of 34 counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault involving four boys aged between 10 and 15 while he was manager of New Ross swimming pool where he coached children.

The court heard how he befriended parents and gained their trust as a swimming coach but was all the time grooming their children.

Doyle never changed his expression after the jury found him guilty of all the offences which happened from 1981 to 1993 at New Ross swimming pool. He was handed down a six-and-a-half year sentence yesterday but has already served one year and 20 days as he was previously convicted and jailed in 2010.

However, he was released on bail after the Court of Criminal Appeal overturned his conviction last year.

His victims expressed relief last night that the retrial had ended with Doyle behind bars "at last".

The Irish Independent has also learned that Doyle was a friend of convicted child abuser Derry O'Rourke -- and even defended him to parents when allegations first emerged against him in the 1990s, stating that it was "all lies".

O'Rourke was a notorious swim coach paedophile, who was jailed for 12 years in 1998 for sexual assault, indecent assault and statutory rape of children.

He received further sentences in 2000 and 2005 for sexual abuse of children between the 1970s and 1992.

He avoided jail for indecent assault in 2010.

The 66-year-old of Barrack Street, Bailieborough, Co Cavan, was released from the Midlands Prison in 2007 after serving nine years. He has been living under supervision in the community since his release.

One of Doyle's victims -- and his family -- last night confirmed his close relationship with O'Rourke.


"They knew each other quite well, they were pally. I'll never forget the day we confronted Ger with a Sunday newspaper that showed all of the allegations against Derry O'Rourke and he defended him. He tried to convince us it was all lies."

Revelations about O'Rourke's sordid activities -- and those of another Irish national coach, George Gibney -- have rocked the world of swimming.

Gibney, who lives in the US, was charged with sexual abuse but a judicial review prevented the case from proceeding because of the time elapsed since the alleged incidents.

In response to the latest imprisonment of a former national and Olympic coach, Swim Ireland said last night there was "absolutely no place in swimming" for people who prey on children.

"An awful lot has been done in Swim Ireland to ensure that it is a safe sport. We've had very bad days in the past," a spokesman said.

Judge Alice Doyle said yesterday Ger Doyle had "carefully planned" the abuse of young boys. She said he had breached the trust of the children and their families and "used" his position to manipulate them.

Five men gave evidence against Doyle during the re-trial. The victims, who do not wish to be named, recalled how Doyle "punished" them in his office or the boiler room of the pool he managed.

He slapped one boy and felt his penis while he touched other children or forced them to masturbate.

Judge Alice Doyle said the accused, who had no prior convictions, had "breached" the trust of children and parents.

She said the crimes were "premeditated" and a "threat was implicit" in Doyle's conduct that the child would "suffer consequences" and be "removed from their chosen sport should they tell about these assaults".

She also said there appeared to be a "complete absence of insight or remorse" on behalf of the accused.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News