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Lawyer for ex-GAA official locked up since 2018 on sex charges slams trial delays

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Thomas McKenna, arrested in August 2018, has been on remand since then

Thomas McKenna, arrested in August 2018, has been on remand since then

Thomas McKenna, arrested in August 2018, has been on remand since then

A former GAA treasurer who is alleged to have sexually abused 20 victims has spent far too long on remand awaiting trial, his solicitor said yesterday.

Defence lawyer Gerard Trainor told Newry Magistrates Court that Thomas McKenna (60) has been in custody for two years, "which to my recollection is the longest period that anyone has been held on remand".

"He is fully aware of his bail rights," he said, adding that the PPS "agrees with me that the case cannot stay in this remand court for very much longer".

McKenna is facing charges across two bills of indictment relating to the sexual abuse of 12 victims over an almost 30-year period.

He is facing 10 charges against three males, including five counts of sexual assault, three counts of indecent assault and other serious sexual offences.

On a second indictment, he faces a total of 17 charges alleged to have been committed between 1988 and his August 2018 arrest.

They include two counts of serious sexual offences against males aged over 16 without consent, and two gross indecency offences, one of which was against a child.

He is also charged with sexual assault, voyeurism and eight counts of indecent assault, along with making and possessing indecent photographs of children.

The retired postman, who was treasurer of Crossmaglen Rangers, is further alleged to have interfered with mail during his employment.

While the indictments relate to a dozen victims at the moment, the prosecution has told the court previously that "there are 20 victims" who were allegedly abused by McKenna.

The "serious and complex investigation" involves alleged victims who claim McKenna either sexually abused them or took photos and videos of them without their permission.

Police searches led to the recovery of devices said to contain 43,000 still images and 8,000 short video clips.

During the brief mention yesterday, during which McKenna did not appear, the PPS said the file had been allocated to a senior prosecutor in June who in turn would likely be seeking "counsel opinion", so she was seeking a four-week adjournment at which stage the prosecution hoped to be able to provide a timetable for case progression.

Mr Trainor said while he acknowledged it is a "voluminous case with multiple complainants... there's nothing complex about it".

He submitted to District Judge Eamon King that he could "exercise your own statutory powers" and set a date for the preliminary enquiry on the next occasion as "the police and Crown have had more than enough time to consider this".

Adjourning the case to September 16, Mr King highlighted the fact that after the initial charge other complaints and charges followed, which had led to some delay.

However, he said he would fix a timetable for a preliminary enquiry date when the case is next before him.

Belfast Telegraph