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Convicted child rapist Patrick O'Brien has been sentenced to 13 years in prison

The former lay worker at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin had pleaded guilty to a number of charges.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Updated 6.00pm

A FORMER LAY worker with the Church of Ireland has been jailed for 13 years for the rape and molestation of 14 young boys over the course of 40 years.

Patrick O’Brien (76) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 48 sample counts of indecent assault, including various instances of anal penetration, and three counts of sexual assault of the boys between 1974 and 2013 at numerous locations.

The abuse happened throughout the state including Kildare, Westmeath, on a boat in Loughrea in Galway and at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin where he worked as a volunteer.

The Church of Ireland released a statement this evening on O’Brien’s conviction:

“St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, and the wider Church of Ireland community have been deeply dismayed at the nature and extent of the offences which have been brought to light in the case involving Patrick O’Brien, who was sentenced today.”

“The Church commends the courage of Patrick O’Brien’s victims in coming forward.”

In 1989 Patrick O’Brien received a one year suspended sentence for the sexually assaulting a ten-year-old boy in 1982.

O’Brien, with an address at Knocklyon Road, Templeogue, Dublin, was sent forward for trial from Dublin District Court.

Anonymity

All of the victims wish to preserve their anonymity. Four victims were present in court for the sentence hearing. A number of victim impact reports were prepared but not all the men wanted their statement to be read out.

It took over 30 minutes to read out the charges in a sentence hearing that took place over two days to allow for all 14 statements of complaint to be read into the record.

Judge Melanie Greally said that O’Brien’s action had a severely damaging effect on his victims. She noted that the accused had no support in court and said that for all intents and purposes he was alone in the world.

One man described in his victim impact report how his biggest fear over the years was that he might end up abusing his own daughter. He said he had read numerous cases about abused children becoming abusers themselves and it played on his mind.

“It frightened the crap out of me,” he said.

A lion without a roar

A second man outlined in his victim impact report that he had never married and said that this was down to the abuse he suffered. He said he felt now at 50 years old that the chance to have a wife and family had “passed me by”.

One of O’Brien’s youngest victims, who was raped as a nine-year-old boy, described himself in his victim impact report as a lion without a roar”. He said he developed a shield and a shell to bury this “violent secret” inside

He said O’Brien made him feel like the abuse “was almost a rite of passage” but that he now understood he was grooming him.

He said he had been abused himself, and told gardaí:

I would like to say how sorry I am for causing these lads such distress and apologise to them all absolutely.

Sean Guerin SC, defending, told Judge Melanie Greally that his client had written a letter in which he said he wanted to apologise “unreservedly” for the breach of trust and the suffering the victims and their families endured. He acknowledged his “deep heartfelt regret and shame”.

Counsel said O’Brien has completed 312 hours of group psychotherapy treatment since April 2014 which he said was a practical indication of remorse and efforts at rehabilitation even at this stage of his life.

Counsel submitted that his client’s plea of guilty and admissions were of substantial value in the case, having regard to the victims, many of whom he said indicated “a fear of being disbelieved”.

Read: Teen accused of stealing exotic animals from Lucan library

Read: Two 15-year-olds handed 20 year sentence for ‘cold, ruthless and chilling’ murders

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Sonya McLean and Fiona Ferguson

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