Belfast Telegraph

Return of pervert brothers to village down to ‘clerical error’

By Deborah McAleese

Demands have been made for an urgent investigation by the departments of justice and health after it emerged that two paedophile brothers were able to return to a Co Fermanagh village due to a clerical error.

James and McDermott (61) and Owen-Roe McDermott (52) were allowed to return to the village of Donagh — where they sexually abused children for more than 30 years — after they were declared mentally unfit to stand trial in June. Their home is just yards from a playground and youth club.

It emerged yesterday during a meeting of the Justice Committee that the judge had included a residency requirement, which gave Western Trust social workers the authority to decide where the brothers could reside.

The committee was told, however, that due to a clerical error this was not included in the brothers' special treatment order and they were able to return to Donagh. Their return to the scene of their crimes sparked alarm and outrage within the area.

SDLP Justice Committee member Conall McDevitt said that had this requirement not been omitted social workers managing the case may have concluded that Donagh was not an appropriate place for the brothers to reside.

“I can’t make the assumption that they might not have been allowed back but had the details of the residency requirement been written up properly the social worker who was managing this would have had to take into account where their home was situated,” he said.

“I believe this was a fundamental systematic failure and it raises very serious questions about the handling of this case by the departments of justice and health.”

It is understood that the treatment order has since been amended to include details of the residency requirement. The bothers are now receiving in-patient psychiatric care after admitting themselves to hospital. On their release social workers will have a say on where they believe it would be appropriate for them to reside, meaning they may not be able to return to the village.

Sinn Fein MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew said the community in Donagh will be shocked that an administrative error was responsible for the return of the brothers to the village.

“I will be contacting the ministers of justice and health asking them to investigate further how this unacceptable error was allowed to go unnoticed in such a controversial case and what measures can be taken to ensure there can be no repeat of this type of error in the future,” she added.

In June the brothers were deemed unable to plead due to their limited mental state and were placed on the sex offenders’ register for life.

Between them, four McDermott brothers, from Moorlough Road in Donagh, faced 60 charges of abuse spanning five decades.

John McDermott was jailed for nine years in June while Peter Paul McDermott took his own life during his trial.

James and Owen-Roe were given lifetime orders banning them from being with children and a two-year treatment and supervision order placing them in the care of social services.

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