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Former Crossmaglen Rangers GAA treasurer pleads guilty to litany of sex crimes

Thomas McKenna (62) will be sentenced later this year.

Laganside Courts.
Laganside Courts.
Image: PA

A FORMER TREASURER of Crossmaglen Rangers GAA club today pleaded guilty to a litany of sex crimes against young boys dating back over three decades.

Ex-postman Thomas McKenna (62), formerly of Woodside Park, Bessbrook, Co Armagh, was due to go on trial next week on the first of three sets of charges he faced.

But at Belfast Crown Court today, defence counsel Kevin Magill asked for McKenna to be re-arraigned on three separate charge sheets which totalled 148 sexual offences and related to over 20 victims.

McKenna, who was produced to the court from Maghaberry Prison, pleaded guilty to a catalogue of offences which included multiple counts of indecent assaults, sexual assaults and gross indecency offences. 

A number of charges, including buggery and attempted rape were “left on the court books and not to be proceeded with without the leave of the Crown Court or the Court of Appeal”.

In June 2021, McKenna pleaded guilty to 18 counts of voyeurism, four indecent assaults and one count of taking an indecent image of a child.

The former postman was placed on the sex offenders register as a result of the guilty pleas.

Following his guilty pleas today, Belfast Recorder Judge Patricia Smyth said: “Stand up Mr McKenna. By your pleas of guilty you have admitted a catalogue of terrible offences against vulnerable young men.

“You will be punished severely for that. I am aware that some of those affected may be on the (video) link. To those affected may I say this: I praise your courage in coming forward to disclose these terrible crimes in very, very difficult circumstances.

“Today each of you is completely vindicated in the complaints that you made against this man. I hope that that vindication will bring some peace of mind to those of you who continue to suffer grievously.

“And may I also say this: by coming forward and being determined to see this process through to its conclusion, you have brought about this situation where this man has admitted his guilt.

“Each of you have done a great public service in coming forward and I want to thank you for that,” added Judge Smyth.

Prosecution counsel Charles MacCreanor KC said the Crown would not be proceeding with a number of matters which had recently come to light.

He said the defendant had signed a document in relation to those matters which would now be “taken into consideration” along with his guilty pleas.

Defence counsel Greg Berry KC asked for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on McKenna by the Probation Service NI ahead of sentencing.

He added that he would also be seeking a medical report to be completed on McKenna which he said “related to a number of issues”.

Judge Smyth said she would hear the case on Monday, November 7, 2022, ahead of a sentencing date.

McKenna was remanded back into custody to await sentence.

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About the author:

John Cassidy

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