Belfast Telegraph

Case against theatre director who groomed and abused a child is adjourned

Pervert: Jonathan Conaghan
Pervert: Jonathan Conaghan

By Paul Higgins

This is the theatre director who groomed and sexually abused a young boy.

Jonathan Conaghan (41) had been due to be sentenced by a judge at Antrim Crown Court yesterday.

However, the hearing was adjourned after it emerged that two reports, one from probation and one from a doctor, were not ready in time.

Earlier this month, Conaghan, whose address is not known, pleaded guilty to seven sex offences committed against the boy on dates between November 30, 2015 and June 1 last year.

Conaghan, who at one stage was the resident artistic director for a Co Down theatre company, admitted two counts of sexually assaulting a boy under 13, inciting the victim to engage in sexual activity, sexual communication with the child "for the purposes of obtaining sexual gratification" and meeting a child following sexual grooming.

Two counts of voyeurism disclose that "for the purpose of sexual gratification, he observed (the victim) doing a private act knowing that the other person did not consent to being observed for your sexual gratification".

In court yesterday, prosecuting counsel Suzanne Gallagher said that while Conaghan had already been interviewed by a probation officer, they needed a further interview before their report could be compiled, adding that the Probation Board had asked for a two-week adjournment to facilitate that.

The defence however, continued the lawyer, were asking for three weeks to allow them time to obtain and serve a doctor's report.

Ms Gallagher told Judge Kevin Finnegan QC there had been a "basis of facts" document already lodged with the court and she would also be lodging a victim impact statement written by the boy's mum.

Adjourning the sentencing to June 24, Judge Finnegan remanded Conaghan back into custody.

He told Conaghan that although "I'm sure you're anxious to get it over and done with... I cannot sentence without these reports".

The judge added, however, that "I do not want this case to go beyond the summer, not just for Mr Conaghan's benefit but also for the mother who is taking a close interest in the case".

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph