Mourne mountain rescue veteran who groped two boys avoids prison
Victim came forward in wake of Jimmy Savile scandal
A former volunteer with the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team narrowly avoided being sent to jail after he admitted sexually assaulting two young boys over three decades ago.
One of the victims came forward due to the publicity surrounding the case against Jimmy Savile, while the second complainant admitted he had also been abused after he was initially questioned as a potential witness.
James McEvoy (58), from Broomfield Close in Castlewellan, admitted three counts of indecent assault against the two boys, who were aged around 12 at the time of the offences.
He was handed a 12-month sentence, which was suspended for two years.
Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Belfast yesterday, heard the offences were committed between 1984 and 1986 when McEvoy — who worked as a ranger for the Forestry Commission — was aged around 30. His defence barrister Eugene Grant QC spoke of a “catastrophic dent” in his client's reputation.
Crown prosecutor Laura Ivers told the court that at the time of the offending, one of the victims “looked up to” McEvoy due to his position as a local mountain rescue volunteer. On the first occasion, McEvoy took the youngster out in his 4x4 to go rock climbing in the summer holidays.
She said that a short distance along a mountain track McEvoy started to “play fight” with the boy, during which he groped him.
Mrs Ivers said the second incident occurred during the same summer break, when McEvoy took the youngster and a friend for a walk in the foothills. McEvoy began play fighting with the boys, and he again touched the same boy.
The prosecutor said the victim only reported the matter to police in 2012 following the publicity connected to TV presenter Savile. She also revealed that when police spoke to the victim's friend as a possible witness, he too said he had been abused by McEvoy.
The second victim said the single incident occurred at Tollymore, when McEvoy touched his genitals over his clothing while wrestling in a play fight. The court heard this victim told McEvoy to stop, and while he never disclosed what had happened, he “avoided being alone with the defendant thereafter”.
When he was interviewed by police McEvoy initially denied the charges, but subsequently admitted three counts of indecent assault. The court heard he came before the court with a clear record.
Mr Grant QC, representing McEvoy, spoke of his client's many years of service as a volunteer with the Mounre Mountain Rescue Team, adding that in his 30 years service, McEvoy was “involved in many successful missions”. The barrister also spoke of McEvoy's work record, which included being employed as a ranger in the Mourne Mountains, as well as working for the Mourne Heritage Trust.
Branding the criminality as “two isolated incidents” which occurred 30 years ago, Mr Grant also spoke of McEvoy's clear record.
Passing sentence, Judge Geoffery Miller QC said McEvoy's pleas spared his two victims the trauma of giving evidence. Handing McEvoy a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, Judge Miller made McEvoy the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for five years.