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Court

Former scout leader who sexually abused three teenagers almost 30 years ago jailed for six years

The 61-year-old man pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault on dates between 1991 and 2000.

A “PAEDOPHILE PREDATOR” scout leader who sexually abused three teenage boys almost 30 years ago has been jailed for six years.

The 61-year-old man, who can’t be named to protect the anonymity of the victims, pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault on dates between 1991 and 2000 at the scouting den in Dublin and at a location in Waterford.

The three victims were aged between 11 and 14 at the time. They were each members of a scouting troop, which the man was involved with as a “well-respected” leader.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard the abuse included inappropriate touching, masturbation and oral sex. Two of the victims were told by the man that a girl liked them and they were made to cover their heads before he abused them under the guise of the so-called girl.

Imposing sentence today, Judge Martin Nolan said the man’s behaviour was “very serious” and “very reprehensible”.

He said the defendant had abused his position of “trust and authority” over the young boys who were “impressionable” and “vulnerable”. The judge noted that the man abused the trust of the boys, their families and the wider community.

He imposed three year sentences in relation to each count, but directed that two of these sentences should run consecutively, meaning the man was handed a global sentence of six years.

The victims and their families were present in court and there was some applause after Judge Nolan finished his remarks.

He said while the court understood their emotions in the moment, the applause was not appropriate as the courtroom was a “place of objective justice”.

Three victim impact statements were prepared, with two read aloud in court.

One of the statements was read by prosecuting counsel Fionnuala O’Sullivan BL.

The victim outlined how the scout leader’s actions “sculpted how he deals with people” and has “destroyed” his trust.

He said the man “took his innocence” and turned it against him.

He said he buried everything to do with the abuse, and while he found the judicial process hard, it has provided some relief.

He said the man “destroyed” his past and what he could have been. “What he did affected by my whole life…[he] robbed us of our potential”.

Another victim read his victim impact statement to the court. He said his family was involved in scouting and had “full trust” in the organisation and in the man who was a “well-respected, trusted member of the community”.

He said he came to the attention of the “paedophile predator” at a time when he was vulnerable as his mother was seriously ill and later passed away. He said he has blocked out memories from this period due to the abuse.

He said he has struggled with his mental health, anxiety, depression and alcohol. He said he also had “feelings of guilt” as the man had “access to other children”, though he is “relieved” this is no longer the case.

He said he started to understand through counselling what happened to him, but he had to “relive the traumatic experiences” during the investigation and legal process.

He said he doesn’t know if he will allow his children to join the scouts as he and his partner are “too scared” to trust their children’s safety to any person or organisation.

Shane Costelloe SC, defending, told the court his client wished to express his remorse and apologise to the victims. He said the man is deeply ashamed of his actions.

A psychological report was handed to the court. Costelloe said his client had issues with alcohol but has been abstinent since the 2000s. He has a long work history and was a carer for his mother, who passed away in recent days.

Defence counsel said the man was himself sexually abused by two priests and is aware that he has perpetuated the trauma of what was done to him as he “knows exactly what he did to these men”.

He asked the court to take into consideration his client’s “otherwise unblemished life” and that he is assessed as at low risk of re-offending.

Judge Nolan said the victim impact statements were “compelling” and outlined how the victims had suffered “by reason of the actions and abuse” by the defendant.

He said he took into account the mitigating features including the guilty plea, the man’s work history and his lack of relevant convictions.

Judge Nolan said there is also a “small degree” of mitigation as the man was himself the victim of sexual abuse, adding “this gives him no excuse at all in relation to his own behaviour”.

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