Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Tiny village haunted by paedophile brothers

The brothers' house overlooking a playground
Owen Roe, James, and John. Peter took his own life after his trial started

Victims who were abused by four Fermanagh brothers say they are outraged that two of them are back living in the community they once terrorised.

James and Owen Roe McDermott — who were accused of 19 child sex offences — walked free from court last week after being deemed unfit to plead.

But there is anger that the pair, who along with two other brothers committed “a tidal wave of abuse”, are back living in Donagh.

One victim said he believes up to 50 children in the area were abused.

The community is to hold a public meeting to discuss the situation.

Between them the McDermott brothers from Moorlough Road in the village faced 60 charges of abuse spanning five decades.

Last Friday John Michael McDermott was jailed for nine years while a second brother, Peter Paul McDermott, killed himself a day after he went on trial.

James and Owen Roe McDermott were deemed unable to plead due to their limited mental state and were placed on the sex offenders’ register for life.

The judge also made them the subject of a two-year supervision and treatment order.

The pair have returned to Donagh and are living just yards from a playground and youth club.

One victim said he feels there is a high risk posed by their return.

“Fair enough, they’re on the sex offenders’ register and under supervision — but who can supervise them 24/7?” he said.

“I’d just like to say to anyone in Donagh, anyone living in the village — please keep an eye on your children. These boys are dangerous men and they should not be there.”

The man, who was raped and abused between the ages of 11 and 15, said he had been “passed round like a piece of meat from brother to brother”.

Another victim said she felt James and Owen Roe McDermott had escaped through “a loophole in the Mental Health Act”.

Sinn Fein councillor Thomas O’Reilly said he could understand the community’s frustration.

“Let’s be honest, there are convicted paedophiles living in the community after their release from jail,” he said.

“But for these brothers to be back here a week after their trial ended and in an area where victims and victims’ relatives live and where there are lots of children around — I can understand why people are worried.”

Last week Omagh Crown Court judge David McFarland said Donagh had been “an appalling secret” where children “bore the brunt of a tidal wave of abuse”.


Owen Roe, James, and John. Peter took his own life after his trial started

The sleepy rural outpost where generations of children suffered abuse

It is the sleepy village that hid a dark and sinister secret for almost half-a-century. In the quiet outpost of Donagh, buried in the heart of the idyllic Fermanagh countryside, generations of young boys and girls were raped and abused by four predatory brothers.

In the words of a judge, this was a quiet and picturesque village, but it was far from an idyllic childhood for those growing up there. The McDermott brothers terrorised this community. Between them they faced more than 60 charges of abuse spanning four decades.

That reign of terror ended last Friday when three of them were convicted for the appalling and horrendous catalogue of abuse.

John Michael McDermott (60) was jailed for nine years for the rape of a schoolboy.

Two other brothers — Jimmy (61) and Owen Roe (52) — were deemed unfit to plead, although a jury found they had also abused children.

They were released back into the community and are still living in Donagh.

This is a village where the abusers, the victims and their families all live side by side.

Even in death it seems there is no escape. The fourth brother, 62-year-old Peter Paul McDermott, killed himself the day after he went on trial.

He was found hanging in the

village graveyard which is now his final resting place.

A simple wooden cross marks his grave, along with a handful of ornaments from family members.

A few hundred yards along the road is the McDermotts’ home.

The house sits opposite a children’s playground and is just yards from the village youth club.

Witnesses had told the trial how, during their reign of terror, the brothers would appear at any place and at any time.

“They were like meerkats. If you were in a field they would just appear in it,” one said.

Yesterday, however, there was no sign of Jimmy or Owen Roe McDermott.

Neighbours said the pair live with two sisters.

When the Belfast Telegraph called there was no response, apart from a curtain twitching at a side window.

As details of the McDermotts’ crimes swept through Donagh panic and alarm gripped this tiny, rural community.

A grandmother in the village said some children are no longer allowed out on their own.

“There is quite a bit of concern in the village — some parents won’t let their children out unsupervised now,” she said.

“I raised my children here and now they have had kids, so it is quite concerning.”

Her friend, who now lives outside Donagh, said she was glad to have left the village.

As concern grows a public meeting has been called to discuss the situation.

But one resident said driving the McDermotts out would not solve anything.

“Where else will you put them?,” she asked. “At least we know where they are. It is better than not knowing they are about.” For the victims, however, it is a different story.

One said he was angry that the community had been left to deal with Jimmy and Owen Roe McDermott.

“It’s not right that they are still able to remain in the community... walk out their front door and watch children playing,” he said.

For the people of Donagh, the evil deeds of four brothers continue to cast a long shadow.

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