Belfast Telegraph

Victim's relief as paedophile GAA coach guilty of catalogue of abuse

By Michael Donnelly

A man who was abused by a well-known GAA coach has said going to the police was the best decision he has ever made after the paedophile was convicted of 28 sex offences.

Patrick Francis McQuillan, from Moyle Avenue, Ballycastle, was convicted of a catalogue of sex abuse against six boys from the Co Antrim town between December 1985 and March 2000.

The father-of-four was also a GAA referee and Scout master, as well as a first aid worker for the St John Ambulance and a part-time fireman.

He was convicted at Antrim Crown Court of a total of 38 offences including indecent assault, gross indecency with a child, and the attempted serious sexual assault of two of his victims.

Speaking later, one of McQuillan's victims, who did not want to be named, said going to the police was "absolutely the best decision I have ever made in my life", and he encouraged other sex abuse victims to come forward.

The man, who was first abused when he was aged about 10, said he had thought he was a lone victim when he first went to the police. However, following his example, other victims came forward to tell their story.

"It has brought closure to that part of my life," the man said.

"I pray to God that if it has happened to anybody else... I hope to God they come forward," he said.

"You know you couldn't make up the stuff that happened. Some of the stuff should never happen to a young child. Never. No young child should have to do that.

"I have been living with this for years, letting it go on, and while I went on with what I thought was my normal life, it wasn't normal. It was always hanging there, over you."

His trial had heard that over the years McQuillan had abused his victims either in his or their homes, and some of his victims were regularly abused over 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 soon became more serious. In one case McQuillan indecently assaulted one of his victims while on the pretext of teaching him to swim, and in two cases progressed to where he attempted to seriously sexually assault boys.

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

The jury acquitted him of indecently assaulting one of them, a girl.

He was also cleared of 10 other charges involving five of his male victims. They also failed to reach verdicts in two other counts, and were discharged from having to bring in a decision on one of the charges.

However, the jury convicted him of sexually abusing all six of his male victims from when they were youngsters until they were in their teens.

He will be sentenced next month.

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