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Dublin: 14 °C Tuesday 24 September, 2019
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Grocer who sexually assaulted employees aged between 13 and 23 given thirteen-year sentence

The judge imposed consecutive sentences on Joseph McGrane, citing his moral culpability in the assaults.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

A DUBLIN FRUIT and vegetable wholesaler who was convicted of sexually assaulting three boys and a young woman during an eight-year period has been sentenced to 13 years in prison, with the final year suspended.

Joseph McGrane (59) had denied all charges against him but was found guilty by a jury after a trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in March.

He was convicted of 11 counts of indecent assault and seven counts of sexual assault at various locations, including his home, on dates between 1985 and 1993.

The court heard that McGrane, of Burnell Green, Coolock, Dublin, ran a retail and wholesale business and that all four victims had worked for him at different stages.

In her ruling today, Judge Elma Sheahan commended the “eloquent and powerful” victim impact statements made by the complainants, whom she said were still trying, so many years later, to work through the damage caused to themselves and their families.

Judge Sheahan said McGrane had abused his position of power and authority as an employer and a trusted adult and had also used alcohol in a premeditated way to take advantage of each victim.

She said three innocent young boys and an innocent young woman with their whole lives ahead of them had been “preyed upon in the most egregious manner”, and that the effects of the abuse had been devastating, with long-term consequences.

Consecutive sentences

The judge also said McGrane’s high level of moral culpability, aggravated by the seriousness and the intensity of the abuse, meant that consecutive sentencing was appropriate, even though it was “the exception rather than the norm”.

She set headline sentences of eight and six years for the first two victims and four years each for the other complainants.

She said although it was “difficult to identify any substantial mitigating factors”, the case was of some antiquity and no complaint had been made against McGrane since 1993.

The judge also cited McGrane’s work history as a productive member of society, his employment provision, his support of his family and the fact that he was now on the sex offenders’ register.

McGrane has no other convictions.

He was aged between 25 and 33 when he committed the offences. The male victims were aged between 13 and 14 when the abuse began, and between 15 and 18 when it ended.

The young woman was aged 23 when she was sexually assaulted by McGrane.

‘Funny taste’

Sergeant Kevin Lynch told Diana Stuart BL, prosecuting, that one victim told gardaí that McGrane had asked him to go babysitting with him when he was 14.

This victim said that when the children were asleep, he noticed a large bottle of Smirnoff on the table. McGrane gave him a pint of Coke that had a funny taste.

McGrane then called the boy into the bathroom and kept asking him to get into the bath with him until he finally undressed and did so.

McGrane then sexually assaulted him and continued to do so for the next two years.

This man submitted a victim impact report which he asked the court to read in private.

Another complainant said he started going to McGrane’s house about the age of 13 or 14 and sometimes there was vodka present and he would stay over.

He said McGrane would jump into bed beside him, take off his clothes slowly and sexually assault him. He said the abuse lasted two to three years.

In a victim impact report read out on his behalf, this man said he has attended counselling at Pieta House and One In Four to try and cope with the effects of the abuse on his life.

He had suffered serious bouts of depression and self-doubt and came close to the loss of his job which he loves.

The man also said the abuse caused the break-up of his marriage after he was a “demon” and “verbally abusive”.

Work party

The third complainant said he was approached by a garda about statements made by the first two victims, who had been his childhood friends.

This man said he had been working part-time for the accused when he was aged 13 or 14 and had gone on holidays with the two other boys to a mobile home down the country.

He said he got very drunk and sick and McGrane sexually assaulted him in a caravan over a few hours. “The room was spinning, it happened in slow motion,” he said.

This man submitted a victim impact report which was also read by the court in private.

The fourth victim, a woman, was aged 21 or 22 and was working with McGrane when they went out socialising at a work party.

She had had too much to drink and McGrane said he would take her home.

She told gardaí that McGrane took her instead to his house, saying he didn’t want her mother “to see her in that state”.

The woman fell asleep and awoke to find him sexually assaulting her.

Good employer

This woman, now aged 49, read out her own victim impact statement in which she said her life “completely changed” after she was abused.

She said she had been happy in life and loved socialising, but that after this offence it was like her life was “replaced by another life, that I hated”.

She said she felt confused and terrified and had a very restricted social life and serious trust issues ever since.

She removed herself from her friends and drank to forget as a way of coping.

Paul Greene SC, defending, described his client as a good employer from a highly-regarded family.

He cited several character references describing the accused as “decent”, “hardworking” and “trustworthy”, while other references spoke of his involvement in local community activities and fundraising.

The sentence was backdated to 22 March last, when McGrane went into custody.

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Jessica Magee

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