Belfast Telegraph

Sex abuse Scout leader Colin Finnegan's sentence too short, says DPP Barra McGrory

A remorseless former scout leader who subjected four boys to systematic sexual abuse should have been jailed for up to three years longer, the Court of Appeal heard today.

Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions claimed Colin Finnegan received an unduly lenient 11-year sentence for his campaign of molestation.

Even though some of Finnegan's offences were committed when he was a youth himself, Barra McGrory QC argued that he was entitled to no credit having continued to abuse into adulthood.

Following a third trial the 44-year-old, formerly of Sloan Hill Mews, Lurgan, Co Armagh, was convicted last year of a total of 59 sex offences.

The charges, stretching back 1982, covered a 16-year period when he was aged between 12 and 28.

Although a fifth suspected victim remained unknown, Finnegan was found to have preyed on four other boys and used them for his own sexual gratification.

Applying to have the sentence increased, Mr McGrory told the court Finnegan targeted his victims with drugs and alcohol.

"This was a scout leader who was entrusted... to look after these boys," he said.

"There's a background of a very serious abuse of trust and a systematic, comprehensive abuse of children in his case."

Any benefit from carrying out some of the offences as a child was lost when he persisted into his twenties, Mr McGrory contended.

"There is absolutely no remorse, he fought this case to the bitter end," he added.

"These injured parties were put through the trauma of these trials."

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, hearing the appeal alongside Lord Justice Girvan and Mr Justice Weatherup, asked if the Director believed Finnegan should have received a 14-year jail term.

"It shouldn't be any less," he replied.

"The totality of these offences would require sentencing in the range of 14 years."

But defence counsel stressed that each of the 59 counts Finnegan was convicted of did not relate to separate incidents.

A total of 18 incidents happened while he was a child and a further six after he turned 18.

Following submissions judgement was reserved.

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