Belfast Telegraph

'Sexual predator' who abused nephew is jailed for five years

By John Cassidy

A man branded a "sexual predator'' has been jailed for five years for the repeated and persistent sexual abuse of his young nephew.

Thomas Francis Donaghy (77), of O'Callaghan Road, Silverbridge, Co Armagh, was found guilty in June this year by a unanimous verdict on eight counts of gross indecency and eight counts of indecent assault on Micheal Donaghy.

The offences spanned a four-year period more than three decades ago when the victim was aged 10 and took place as he slept in his uncle's bed.

During a sentencing hearing yesterday, prosecution lawyer Geraldine McCullough told Newry Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, that Micheal had been shunned by his father, mother, brother and sister since he first told them about the abuse.

"However, he has the continued support of his wife Sinead and children throughout these proceedings," she said.

"The defendant still denies these offences and has shown no remorse.''

Thomas Donaghy's defence barrister John Kearney QC said: "He hails from a country area. He has lost everything that was important to him.

"He has lost his good name and his reputation.

"It is accepted that this was a breach of trust in the sleeping arrangements.''

The judge said that defendant "had deliberately set about grooming and sexually abusing Micheal for his own sexual purpose'' from an early age, which had caused the victim a "significant degree of harm which, in my view, was substantial''.

Judge Fowler QC said that it wasn't until Micheal's children reached the age that he was when he was abused that he "felt compelled to report the matters to the police''.

His uncle was later arrested by the PSNI and during interview denied abusing his nephew.

The defendant accused his nephew of making up the allegations, saying that Micheal had found out he had left his land to another nephew.

"These matters were placed before the jury,'' said Judge Fowler.

"And it was the cornerstone of the defendant's defence, and which the jury duly rejected.''

Branding the defendant a "sexual predator'', the judge added: "This was sexual abuse carried out against a child who was vulverable because of his age and who was in the formative years of his life.

"This abuse happened in his grandparents' home, where he should have felt safe and where he should have been safe.

"The abuse was a serious breach of trust.

"The defendant was in a position of trust and told his victim that it would be 'their secret'.

"The defendant has expressed no remorse and has given no insight into his conduct.''

Judge Fowler added: "I am satisfied that this defendant poses a medium risk of sexual reoffending and there is a need to protect the public from serious harm from this defendant, and that harm could be further sexual offending.''

Donaghy was jailed for five years concurrent on each of the eight counts of indecent assault.

The judge also banned him from working with children and ordered Donaghy to be subject to a Sexual Offenders Prevention Order for five years.

Micheal said he hoped his story will encourage other victims to come forward.

He said he was "relieved'' that his uncle had finally been jailed for sexually abusing him "over a long period of time''.

"There are no winners in all of this,'' saId the 44-year-old Co Armagh father.

"It is just a relief that it is finally all over and I don't have to come back to court.''

Asked about how his family had shunned him since he went to the police, Mr Donaghy replied: "I just have to move on with my life.''

He added: "I hope other victims out there in a similar position to me will now come forward and speak out, because there is help available.

"I want to thank prosecution counsel Geraldine McCullough, the Public Prosecution Service, the PSNI, Nexus and Victim Support for all the support they gave me throughout this case."

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