A MAYO man was found guilty of five counts of indecent assault against a boy during the summer of 1978, when the victim was eleven years old.
A horrific account of what occurred was given by the victim during the defendant’s trial, which took place at last week’s sitting of Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court.
The defendant, who is now 61 years old, was charged with five counts of indecent assault on dates between May 1, 1978, and August 31, 1978, at an address in Mayo. He pleaded not guilty to the offences. His name and address, along with those of the victim, cannot be reported due to reporting restrictions.
The accused was found guilty on all counts by a majority verdict of 10-2 after the jury deliberated for approximately two-and-a-half hours.
Sent to Ireland
The jury was informed that when the victim was eleven years old, his mother sent him from England to friends of the family in Mayo for the summer of 1978. His parents had sent him away as his mother’s mother was dying and they needed his room for his grandmother.
The victim told the court that the house was home to the defendant, who turned 21 that summer, as well as the defendant’s parents and one of his grandmothers.
The victim said he initially enjoyed the visit, as he was working on the farm. He said then the defendant started to come into his room, initially just to talk and bring him sweets. However, the accused’s behaviour started to change.
Clearly emotional, the victim told the court that the abuse started with rubbing but escalated to include masturbation and oral sex. He said the abuse always took place late at night, when the defendant’s parents would be in bed.
He said the noise of the latch closing on the back door was something he used to ‘dread’, as it meant the defendant was home and would be coming into his room shortly.
‘I hated him’
The victim said he did not know how to feel about the attacks until one day he was in a tractor with the defendant and the defendant swerved to hit and kill a neighbour’s sheepdog.
“He was laughing about it. I hated him. I hadn’t before then but I did from then on,” he told the court.
The victim did not tell anyone about the abuse for years, as ‘I knew my father would go crazy’. He said he eventually only opened up about it when he was 40, while he was receiving counselling for drug and alcohol addictions.
He had turned to alcohol not long after returning home to the UK after the summer in Mayo. He admitted that he ‘used women’ and had ‘destroyed’ two marriages because of the abuse he had suffered in Ireland.
“I didn’t realise until later in life that it (the abuse) had such an impact on me,” he said.
Under cross examination from Patrick Murphy, counsel for the accused, the victim was told that the defendant denied all the charges and that he, the victim, had not stayed in the house in Mayo on his own.
The victim denied this.
“None of this is fabricated. It happened. Someone else is fabricating,” he said.
The mother of the victim gave evidence to say that she sent her son to Mayo after the defendant’s mother suggested it after hearing his grandmother was terminally ill. The witness explained that she had worked with the defendant’s mother in England before she and her family, including the defendant, moved back to Mayo.
While the defendant returned to Mayo with his parents, another brother remained in England. She said this other brother had brought her son to Ireland by car on the ferry. She said she was not sure of the date her son went to Ireland, but it was before her mother died on July 2, 1978.
She said that a few weeks later she and her husband visited Mayo to bring her son home in time for the new school term.
Under cross examination, Mr Murphy suggested that her son did not travel to Ireland alone with the defendant’s brother but that he had travelled with his parents after his grandmother died. She denied this, saying he travelled to Ireland on the boat and came home on the plane because he had been sea sick on the ferry crossing.
Detective Garda Pauline Golden gave evidence of arresting and questioning the defendant who when interviewed denied all allegations against him. He described the allegations as ‘bullshit’ and suggested he was making the claims to get money. He claimed that the victim and his family all travelled to Ireland together and stayed with his family for about a week.
The defence did not go into evidence. In his closing submissions, Mr Murphy reminded the jury there was doubt over dates and about how the victim had come to Ireland and he argued that the jury should give his client the benefit of the doubt.
When the jury failed to reach unanimous verdict, Judge Rory McCabe directed that they could give a majority verdict. When the majority verdict was delivered, Judge McCabe remanded the defendant on bail until January 30, 2019, to allow for a probation report and a victim-impact statement to be prepared before sentencing on that date.