Belfast Telegraph

Families’ relief after abuse pair are moved

Families of vulnerable adults wept with relief yesterday after health chiefs agreed to move two brothers accused of sex offences but unfit to stand trial out of the care unit they are being treated in.

James (52) and Owen Roe (61) McDermott are being treated at Lakeview Hospital at Gransha Park in Londonderry after voluntarily admitting themselves nearly two weeks ago.

But relatives were outraged that the pair were being cared alongside their vulnerable adult children in Brook Lodge ward.

Jubilant family members wept with relief after a meeting lasting nearly an hour with Western Health Trust officials.

At the meeting, the families were told that the two brothers would be moved to another unit. They are understood to have been moved to another ward.

They admitted themselves after tension in their home village Donagh, Co Fermanagh, where they had abused children for decades.

They returned to the village after being declared unfit to face over 60 charges of abuse, along with two other other brothers, Peter Paul and John. Peter Paul McDermott committed suicide during the trial while John McDermott was jailed for nine years.

An emotional Mary Doherty from Shantallow in Derry, whose severely autistic son John (25) is a resident in Brook Lodge, said: “This is a relief big time. I just feel like breaking down and crying. We've got what's best for everyone, for our children in Lakeview.

“The two boys have been moved from the ward and I'm glad the two boys are out. They are not in with vulnerable adults and they will now be able to be treated in a safe environment where they can get the care they need.”

John's uncle Patrick Cairns said: “We always said we didn't dispute the McDermott brothers’ need for treatment but they were in with vulnerable children.”

Margaret Pollock from Dungiven, whose daughter Michelle (35) is at Brook Lodge, said: “We're all relieved that we have come through this.” She added: “We'd like to thank the media for highlighting the case.”

Dermot O'Hara, who hosted yesterday’s meeting, said: “It was reflected in the meeting by the parents that they do understand the two brothers need treatment and support and that this has been a traumatic time for them and their family in Fermanagh.”

Foyle MP Mark Durkan said: “The situation has been very distressful for the families and it hasn't been easy for the trust management or the excellent staff at Lakeview.”

Trevor Millar, Western Trust Director of Adult Mental Health Services, said: “Today we discussed the practicalities around offering care to the McDermott brothers.

“We are grateful that with the families’ support and co-operation the situation has moved forward to a satisfactory resolution for everyone. The trust is continuing to care for the needs of all clients and will work closely with the families.”

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