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Former Irish Times journalist Tom Humphries jailed for 2.5 years for child sex offences

The former sports journalist groomed and sexually abused a teenage girl.

Tom Humphries arriving at court earlier this month
Tom Humphries arriving at court earlier this month
Image: Brian Lawless/PA Wire/PA Images

Updated: 3pm

TOM HUMPHRIES HAS been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for the sexual exploitation and defilement of a child.

The sentence was delivered at lunchtime today.

Humphries, a former Irish Times sports journalist, was sentenced to two years for sexual exploitation and two-and-a-half years for defilement. The sentences will run concurrently.

Judge Karen O’Connor said the offences were on the upper end of the mid range of offending. She said the guilty plea meant the victim didn’t have to testify but it could have come earlier.

The judge noted that Humphries has shown remorse and has no previous convictions, stating it was “difficult not to have some sympathy for him”.

However, O’Connor said this statement was not intended to excuse his actions. She said the injured party lost much of her childhood and innocence and “clearly still suffers” due to what happened.

The judge said the maximum sentence she could impose in relation to the defilement charges was five years. O’Connor said she believed a four-year sentence would be a headline figure in this case, before mitigating factors were taken into account.

The sexual exploitation charges carried a maximum term of life in prison, with the judge saying she considered three years as a headline figure before mitigating factors were considered.

The judge said she considered letters of support from Humphries’ family members, including his daughters, and friends when deciding the sentence. David Walsh, the chief sports writer for the Sunday Times, and former Cork hurling goalkeeper Donal Óg Cusack were criticised in recent weeks after it emerged they wrote character references for Humphries.

He showed little emotion when the verdict was read out this afternoon, sitting with his hand to his face for much of the hearing.

Guilty plea

Earlier this month, the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard how Humphries groomed and sexually abused the girl.

Humphries, 54, of Corr Castle, Sutton, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty in March to six offences, dating from 2010 and 2011.

The court heard that Humphries began texting the girl in late 2008 when she was 14 and continued until 2011. The girl did not know how he got her number but she assumed it was through her sports team.

On one occasion, Humphries picked the then 16-year-old up from her school on a Sunday and went to his apartment where he sexually abused her, the court was told.

16,000 texts

Over two years of correspondence between Humphries and the girl took place.

The persistence of that contact was described by the State as “essentially daily contact” with Garda Jarlath Burke previously telling the court gardaí could prove around 16,000 text messages were sent over a three-month period alone.

The victim described how the events have made her “physically, emotionally and mentally ill” and caused her to “block out childhood memories” in an effort to also “block out all the abuse”.

Medical reports previously delivered to the court stated that Humphries continued to present a very real suicide risk and that he didn’t want psychiatric treatment because he felt “he deserved to feel psychological pain”.

The report from Dr Paul O’Connell said Humphries was genuinely remorseful for his actions and suicidal.

Read: Tom Humphries groomed teenage girl with ‘highly sexualised’ texts before taking her to his flat

Read: ‘I could not abandon him’: Journalist explains why he wrote reference for Tom Humphries

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Órla Ryan

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