Belfast Telegraph

Lawyer warns sex offences case against ex-GAA man will take some time to prepare

Former GAA official Thomas McKenna faces multiple charges
Former GAA official Thomas McKenna faces multiple charges

By Paul Higgins

The police investigation into former GAA treasurer Thomas McKenna is so large it will take "some time," a lawyer revealed yesterday.

A prosecuting lawyer told Newry Magistrates Court that a team of detectives investigating sex offences allegedly committed by 58-year-old Thomas McKenna are making progress but "given the volume of material and witnesses this is going to take some time".

She revealed that as well as identifying a "large number of witnesses," there is also a "large amount of work with the cyber crime unit".

"There's a large amount of material to be sifted through and processed including various electronic devices," said the lawyer, adding that she was seeking a four-week adjournment.

Charged over two indictments, McKenna, whose address is given as c/o Maghaberry Prison, is accused of the sexual abuse of 12 victims over an almost 30-year period.

On one set of charges, he is facing 10 offences against three males including five counts of sexual assault, three counts of indecent assault and single counts relating to a serious sexual offence and an attempted serious sexual offence.

On a second indictment, the former GAA treasurer faces a total of 17 charges alleged to have been committed between 1988 and his arrest in August last year.

They include two counts of a serious sexual offence against persons 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 for Crossmaglen Rangers, is further alleged to have interfered with mail during his time of employment.

Previous courts have heard that the "serious and complex investigation" involves alleged victims who claim McKenna took photos and videos of them at locations without their permission.

Police searches led to the recovery of devices said to contain 43,000 still images and 8,000 short video clips - some of which were allegedly taken covertly. In court yesterday, defence solicitor Gerald Traynor suggested that given the fact the police have had the items for four months, "they should be very far up the queue" for examination.

He said while it is accepted "there are a number of complainants," McKenna has been questioned about their allegations, adding: "I'm not sure who these witnesses are."

Mr Traynor further suggested that when the case is next before the court, "the police should give a proper update" about what progress has been made.

Remanding McKenna back into custody to appear again on March 13, Deputy District Judge Steven Keown said the Public Prosecution Service should provide a "target date for forensics and an update regarding witnesses."

Belfast Telegraph


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