Belfast Telegraph

GAA referee Patrick Francis McQuillan sentenced to 11 years for sexual abuse of six children

By Michael Donnelly

A well-known Co Antrim GAA referee has been jailed for a total of 11 years for the sexual abuse of six youngsters stretching from the early 1980s to March 2000.

Judge Gordon Kerr QC told father-of-four Patrick Francis McQuillan that he was passing consecutive sentences because in his view "it is entirely appropriate... to reflect the totality of your offending" which represented a sustained "course of sexual offending over a significant period of years with multiple victims".

"As I have stated before, this is a serious case involving the abuse and corruption of young children by a mature man who stood in a position of trust.

"That breach is a gross breach... and your abusive behaviour continued for nearly 20 years and you took advantage not only of your family, but your social contacts with children to satisfy your illegal desires," the Antrim Crown Court judge also told the 62-year-old.

McQuillan, from Moyle Avenue, Ballycastle, convicted last month of 38 offences ranging from indecent assault, gross indecency and other serious assaults on two of his victims, used his position as a scoutmaster, a member of the St John Ambulance and as a part-time fireman to abuse the young boys.

Judge Kerr, who also put McQuillan on the Sex Offenders' Register for life, banned him from working with children or vulnerable adults and made him the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for the next 15 years.

As Judge Kerr detailed the abuse of each of the victims, he said they had been left with "adjustment disorders", and he "noted that in each case there was a damaging effect upon the victims", a finding which was "inevitable" having regard to McQuillan's abuse which he still "resolutely" refused to acknowledge.

McQuillan's trial had heard that over the years he had abused his victims either in his or their homes, and some of his victims were regularly abused for a number of years. The abuse, it was said, followed a similar pattern, and often started with McQuillan touching his victims over their clothing. However, it progressed to where he touched them, and or, tried to get them to touch him.

Judge Kerr said in one case McQuillan, who knew his victim through scouting, indecently assaulted him while on the pretext of teaching him to swim.

In two other cases assaults took place while either showing his victims his St John Ambulance equipment, or pretending to demonstrate how to stop bleeding.

McQuillan originally faced a total of 51 child sex abuse charges involving seven complainants.

Last month a jury of seven men and five women, who spent more than six hours deliberating over two days, acquitted him of indecently assaulting one complainant, a girl. They also failed to reach verdicts in two other counts. They were allowed to remain on the books.

However, McQuillan was convicted either on unanimous or majority verdicts of sexually abusing all six of his male victims from when they were youngsters until they were in their teens. In addition to acquitting him of indecently assaulting the girl, he was also cleared of 10 other charges involving five of his male victims.

Defence barrister Brian McCartney QC said McQuillan had a clear criminal record and that there was "no allegation of violence from any of the complainants", nor any "allegations of threats, blackmail or coercion".

Mr McCartney said: "It is one of the ironies and a sad aspect of this case that this was a man who was genuinely acknowledged as a man who had the interests of his community at heart."

However, his convictions had now put a "stain on this man's otherwise impeccable character", and that prison, given his age and failing health, "will pose an element of hardship".

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