Longford Circuit Court hears paedophile ring not in operation at GAA grounds where children were sexually abused

Sentencing of 63-year-old man in ‘disturbing’ sexual assault case adjourned

Aisling Kiernan

Reporter:

Aisling Kiernan

Email:

aisling.kiernan@longfordleader.ie

Longford Circuit Court

Longford Circuit Court

During what Judge Keenan Johnson described as a ‘disturbing, distasteful and horrific’ case, Longford Circuit Court heard today that a paedophile ring was not in operation at a GAA grounds where four young children were sexually abused.

Graphic evidence, in relation to the abuse of the four children by the 63-year-old married man, at a midlands GAA grounds was provided.  


The defendant, who previously pleaded guilty at Longford Circuit Court last November to 45 sample counts of  sexually assaulting children; production, possession and distribution of child pornography and the sexual exploitation of minors on various dates between 2000 and 2013, was remanded back into custody by Judge Johnson following a further hearing this afternoon.  


Mr Shane Geraghty, counsel for the prosecution, told the court that one of the victims - aged just seven-years-old when the abuse first began - came in contact with the defendant after he began mitching school and hanging around the grounds where the man was a caretaker.


The court was told that the defendant would give the youngster little jobs to do around the grounds like putting out flags, opening toilet doors and placing the scores on the scoreboard.

The boy was also allowed to drive a tractor occasionally while mowing and maintaining the grounds.  


After the pair got to know each other better, the court heard the defendant asked the child “to show him his pubes”.  


Thereafter, numerous incidents took place, some in the office of the grounds and others in the shower of the referee’s dressing room.     


Counsel for the State told Judge Johnson that the abuse took many forms and included the defendant self masturbating; the masturbating of the defendant by the youngster, the defendant touching the child’s anus with his penis but no penetration and the defendant fondling the youngster’s genitalia while in the shower or when the child was driving the tractor.


The defendant, the court was told, also video recorded the abuse taking place and would later masturbate while watching the videos with the child.  


The court heard that the abuse continued until 2008 and in December of that year, the caretaker left his position at the GAA grounds.  


The court was told that the abuse never happened again after that.


A statement from a female victim was also read into evidence.  The court heard the defendant touched her chest and would rub her legs when she was on the tractor.  


The court also heard from another male victim. He said the defendant would put his hands on his crotch and rub his hands up and down the child’s penis.  He was also sexually abused by the defendant in the shower of the referee’s dressing room.  


The third male, the court heard, presented himself to gardaí but was unable to make a statement because he became frightened and was shaking over having to confront the matter.  


The court was told that gardaí became very concerned about his state of mind and made numerous enquiries about his welfare afterwards.  


Detective Garda Damien McGovern then told Judge Johnson that gardaí searched the defendant’s home in November 2013 and seized a number of hard drives which they later discovered contained 91 “accessible movies”.  


There were a number of digital movies of child pornogrpahy including recordings of two pre-teen children, naked on a couch, in sexually explicit poses, Garda McGovern continued.    

He added; “The defendant was sharing and sending images with another person in the US”.  


The defendant, the court was told, was arrested in connection with matters and during interview he made “full and complete” admissions in relation to the claims against him.  


The court heard that the defendant said during interview; “I want to say something here; I am the adult here and what was said, I am not going to argue with.”  


Detective Garda McGovern also told the court that a paedophile ring was not in operation at the GAA grounds.  


“This was not a paedophile ring,” he added. “This was two individuals (the defendant and one other) who knew what each other was doing but didn’t talk about it.”


The other individual is currently the subject of a European Arrest Warrant.  


Victim Impact statements from two of the victims were then read into evidence.


One of the males said he had gone to therapy in an effort to deal with his depression, a mental health difficulty that he attributes directly to the abuse that he suffered at the hands of the defendant.  


“I feel angry and frustrated every day and I think other people are going to judge me,” he added.


“I don’t have any friends; he took away my childhood.”


The female in the case, told the court in her victim impact statement that as a result of the defendant’s behaviour she never thought anything of herself.


Defence Counsel, Mr Des Dockery then told the court that he was adjourning mitigation pleas because he did not have a “final and complete” probation report nor did he have a psychiatric report on his client.  


Before adjourning matters to June 1 next, Judge Johnson said that the case before him was “disturbing and distasteful and horrific".