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Abuse victim's anger at judge as paedophile teacher is freed

By Deborah McAleese

Published 23/06/2015

Daniel Eccles
Daniel Eccles

A victim of paedophile teacher Daniel Eccles has hit out at the justice system after the serial child abuser walked free from court with a suspended sentence.

The 68-year-old admitted repeatedly abusing two young schoolboys in the 1970s when he worked as a teacher at a west Belfast school.

He walked free from court last week after receiving a two-and-a-half year suspended sentence for a string of charges including indecent assault and gross indecency.

In 2000 Eccles was jailed for six years for the "systematic" sexual abuse of 12 other boys at St Aidan's Primary School in Whiterock.

One of his victims, who never reported the abuse out of "embarrassment, shame and fear of not being believed", said he felt that Eccles had escaped justice by not being jailed for the latest charges.

"The judge seems to have had a complete lack of understanding of the impact this abuse has on victims," he said.

"That man has made my life very, very difficult. Hearing about him has made me feel like I am seven all over again." The 47-year-old west Belfast man said he was just seven when the abuse began. Four decades later it is still affecting him.

"What he did to me has always stayed with me. Even after all this time it still affects me. When I saw the story on the internet that he had walked free from court I started to shake. It all came flooding back," he said.

"I thought he was dead and when I saw his face on the internet I felt sick to my stomach. I'm sure there are others out there going through the same thing. I hate to think of them still suffering over what that man did to us."

The man said he would never forgive the pervert who destroyed his childhood.

"He got away with what he did to me and other people," he said.

"He has been freed again to keep living his life, while we will never be free from what he did. It just never, ever goes away.

"People talk about forgiveness. But I will never be able to forgive him.

"If I ever had the chance to speak to him I would ask him why he did this on innocent young children. He took our childhood and our innocence."

Belfast Crown Court judge Gordon Kerr QC told the court he was not imposing another custodial sentence because he had been given no impact reports, nor any medical evidence, on the victims.

The teacher's abuse first came to public attention in 2000 when he pleaded guilty and was jailed for abusing 12 boys between September 1973 and June 1977.

Last year fresh charges were brought against him after two more victims came forward.

However, the full scale of the abuse is unknown.

Eccles, from Granemore Road, near Keady in south Armagh, was a teacher at the school from 1967 until 1986.

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