Patrick Reilly sentenced to four years for abuse of girls aged between seven and 12
A BELMULLET man who sexually abused seven young girls, one as young as seven years old, was dubbed ‘an evil monster’ who took away her childhood by one of his victims.
Patrick Reilly (76) of Shanaghy, Belmullet, was sentenced to four years imprisonment with the final year suspended after he pleaded guilty to seven counts of sexually assaulting seven young girls at different times between 1997 and 2004.
Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court heard that one of the victims was aged between seven and eight when, on two separate occasions, Mr Reilly put his hand down her trousers and rubbed her vaginal area. The oldest victim was 12 years-old when she was assaulted while the others were aged ten and eleven.
Mr Reilly was charged with 20 counts of sexual assault in total. The court heard that in the majority of incidents he would rub the breasts and vaginal area of the young victims while they were alone. The victims recalled that on some occasions he would laugh and smirk as the abuse took place. On one occasion, he penetrated the vagina of one of his victims, aged eleven, and said to her: “Does your father not do that for you?”
Mr Reilly was described in court as a well regarded member of the local community but since the incidents were first reported three years ago he has become a pariah. Detective Garda John Lavery, who investigated the allegations, said there was shock in the community when the allegations first came to light and there has been a lot of tension with some property damaged. He added that at one stage he received information that the safety of Mr Reilly’s wife was threatened but nothing came of it and there have been no more incidents.
In a victim impact statement which was read in court, one of the victims said she was labelled a liar after first making the allegations, while another said the people who stood by Mr Reilly should be ashamed of themselves.
Mr Reilly had initially pleaded not guilty but changed his plea just before the trial was to begin. Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said the plea of guilt was an acknowledgement that the victims were right and there should be no sides taken in this regard.
“When this man pleaded guilty he acknowledged publicly he committed this abuse … there is no other side,” he said, later adding: “Likewise the victims should acknowledge that it is publicly recognised that they were right all along.”
Reporting restrictions naming Mr Reilly were lifted following the sentencing but Judge Ó Donnabháin ordered that the victims should not be identified in any way.
In their victim impact statements, the victims all spoke of how their childhoods had been lost because of what Mr Reilly did to them. The court heard how some suffered from anxiety and depression as a result and suffered from nightmares and they feared being alone.
One of the older victims said that she felt so guilty after hearing others were abused by Mr Reilly. She felt if she had not been fearful to speak out sooner, other girls would not have become victims. Another victim said she heard him described as ‘a gentleman’ but said he was an ‘evil monster’ who had destroyed her childhood. Another said she could never forgive him and hopes he ‘rots as it is no less than what he deserves’.
Mr Reilly has been in custody since he pleaded guilty on June 27. Since then he wrote a letter which stated that he expressed his remorse for what he did to his victims and was so sorry to his wife and children for letting them down.
No previous convictions
Mr John Shortt, senior counsel for Mr Reilly, said his client was married with ten children who were well educated and respected. He said Mr Reilly had no previous convictions and what he did to his victims will ‘blight him for the rest of his days’. He said the allegations have been out in the community for the last three years and as a result he has become a pariah and that was an actual punishment in itself. He also asked to take into consideration his client’s age when sentencing.
In sentencing Mr Reilly, Judge O Donnabháin said he had to take into account the extremely young age of some of the victims when the abuse was visited upon them. He also acknowledged the victim impact statements and how they all had to carry what happened to them for a long period of time.
Judge Ó Donnabháin sentenced Mr Reilly to a total of four years imprisonment, but suspended the final year on condition he remains of good behaviour for a period of 12 months.