‘NO EVIDENCE AT ALL OF REMORSE’ Judge Rory McCabe. Pic: Aidan Crowley
Abuse described as ‘careful and calculated grooming’ of young boy
A 76-year-old man who groomed and sexually abused a boy over a five year period has been sentenced to eight and a half years in prison.
The accused, who cannot be named in order to protect the anonymity of the victim, committed the offences whilst on holiday in Co Mayo over several years.
The abuse happened at various locations in north Mayo from 2000, when the boy was 12, to 2005, when he was 17. The victim came forward and reported the incidents in 2010.
The accused was interviewed by gardaí whilst on holidays in 2010. However he was not arrested until 2013, when overseas. He contested his extradition to Ireland to face the charges and was eventually brought to Ireland in 2014. He has been in custody in Castlerea Prison since then.
Last Tuesday Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court heard the victim first got to know the perpetrator in 1995, when he was seven years of age.
The abuser, described by the victim as ‘a larger than life character’, befriended the victim’s family and when the victim was 12, his father ‘reluctantly’ acceded to a request from the perpetrator to bring the boy with him to a swimming pool.
Detective Kevin O’Connor told the court that he ‘groomed’ the boy for his own ‘sexual gratification’.
The abuser was subsequently charged with four counts of sexual abuse, four counts relating to child pornography and two counts of attempted buggery.
Series of sexual assaults
Detective O’Connor said the first incident took place in 2000 when, in the changing rooms of a swimming pool, the perpetrator put his hand down the boy’s swimming trunks and on his buttocks.
On another occasion that year he brought the boy to his hotel room and told him to take off his trousers so he could look at his penis. The boy did so and the perpetrator took pictures of him and then showed the boy the pictures.
The boy was 12 years old at the time.
Later that year the boy accompanied the perpetrator and another male to a football match. Whilst sitting in the back of the car as the match in which his brother was playing was going on, the boy was asked by the perpetrator to take out his penis. He did not want to so the perpetrator offered him £10 to do so. The boy complied and as he did so, the abuser took a picture of him.
The court then heard about incidents in 2002 when the perpetrator was again in Ireland on holidays. The boy, now 14, and the perpetrator were alone in his hotel bedroom and the man put pornography on his laptop. He also took out a number of sex toys and performed a number of sexual acts on the boy. He gave the boy some of the sex toys and a ‘secret’ box to hide them in.
In 2005, when the boy was 16, the perpetrator was again on holidays in Ireland and he brought the boy to his hotel room once more. The abuser attempted unsuccessfully to have sex with the boy on numerous occasions in the hotel room on two different days. The boy also performed oral sex on the perpetrator in 2005.
Detective O’Connor said it was his opinion that the accused thought he was ‘untouchable’ when the gardaí interviewed him.
Defending counsel Eoin Garavan told the court his client was in poor health - he was in court in a wheelchair - and that one of his problems included being on the verge of going blind.
He told the court his client is unmarried but has two children and also has grandchildren. However he had nobody with him in court, which Mr Garavan said ‘he may have brought upon himself’.
Judge Rory McCabe said the most aggravating factors were the ‘careful and calculated grooming’ and the ‘extensive period of time’ across which the offences took place.
He said there was no evidence at all of remorse or rehabilitation so he was not going to consider a suspension of any part of the sentences he was handing down.
He imposed sentences ranging from 20 months to eight and a half years for the five charges. Judge McCabe ordered that these be served concurrently.
The judge backdated the sentence to January 2014, when the accused was initially arrested, meaning the full sentence will expire in July, 2022.
He will automatically be placed on the sex offenders’ register.
‘He robbed me of a childhood’ - victim
Those gathered in Courtroom number three in Castlebar Courthouse listened in stunned silence as the victim of a shocking series of sexual abuse incidents bravely read his victim impact statement.
He’s now 27-years-old and told of how the man who groomed him was a ‘larger than life figure’ who ‘completely manipulated my family’ for one reason only - to be able to groom the young boy.
He said that every visit, every phonecall, every postcard he sent to the family he had befriended was all with one express intention – ‘to prey on me and abuse me’.
He first started visiting the family when the boy was seven. It would be five years before he made his move. Judge Rory McCabe described the grooming as ‘careful and calculated’.
Many of the details of the incidents told in court simply cannot be printed.
With nobody to talk to, the victim told us the only person he could turn to was his abuser.
“I was completely brainwashed and I felt he was trying to help me,” he told the court.
The abuser had ‘robbed me of a childhood’ and meant that the young victim grew up with ‘mixed sexual feelings’.
He turned to alcohol for relief from the ‘disgust’ he felt and his relationship with his parents and siblings suffered. They were oblivious to the cause as he did not want to tell anyone what happened. Relationships with girlfriends broke up due to his drinking.
He had suicidal thoughts and almost acted on them but the turning point was when he was 21-years-old and he saw the man who abused him was now ‘making moves to get to know my young nephew’.
He said he struck up the courage to tell his mother and found being able to talk was ‘a great relief’.
However the fact that it has taken until now, from 2010, to get justice is something which he found frustrating.
He told the court how he lost his job due to drink forced by the abuse, how he failed college exams as he could not concentrate to study and ‘sit with my own thoughts’. On one occasion he fractured his hand after punching a wall in anger about the abuse.
The abuse has had a ‘devastating effect’ on his family and he told how his parents’ health has deteriorated since they found out.
Now working in another country is a help as he is not seeing the places where he was abused but wonders will bad dreams he suffers from ‘ever stop’.
He recalls with disgust the fact his abuser took photographs of him naked and how these photos have probably been shared by paedophiles all over the world.
The abuser’s late guilty plea and attempt to fight extradition to Ireland to face the charges showed how he has ‘no remorse’ and the victim does not know ‘if I’ll ever get over this’.
“I feel as if this man has given me a life sentence.”