Belfast Telegraph

Ex-Irish Times sports reporter Tom Humphries jailed for abusing under-age girl

A former leading Irish sports journalist has been jailed for two-and-a-half years for child sex offences.

Ex-Irish Times reporter Tom Humphries, 54, had admitted abusing a girl under the age of 17.

Judge Karen O'Connor passed sentence on counts of exploitation and defilement in a packed courtroom at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

"It is a truism that the larger the profile or success of a member of society, the greater the fall," the judge said.

Humphries, who was a volunteer coach of youth Gaelic games teams, was one of the most well-known sports journalists in Ireland at the time he was committing the offences. He was renowned for forthright opinion pieces across a range of sports.

His abuse was uncovered by chance, when a family member found incriminating images on an old mobile phone. His family confronted him and called in the Garda.

Humphries, from Sutton, north Dublin, sat in the dock on Tuesday dressed in a blue jumper with his hand on his face as the judge delivered her sentence.

He had voluntarily asked to be remanded in custody ahead of the sentence hearing.

Humphries exchanged thousands of text messages with the youngster as part of a grooming process.

The girl, whom he knew through sporting circles, was 14 when he first contacted her in December 2008.

Many of the messages were sexually explicit and contained graphic images.

A snapshot of analysed messages showed that more than 16,000 texts were exchanged over one three-month period.

When the girl was 16, Humphries took her to his Dublin apartment, where they engaged in sexual activity. He was then 47.

He admitted charges comprising two counts of defilement of a child in Dublin between December 5 2010 and February 19 2011, and four counts of inviting a child to participate in a sexually explicit, obscene or indecent act between January 2010 and March 2011.

He was handed two-and-a-half years for defilement and two years for exploitation - the terms to run concurrently.

Judge O'Connor said the age and status disparity between Humphries and his victim were aggravating factors.

"This was a schoolgirl compared to an eminent, highly respected sports journalist," she said.

But she said the most important aggravating feature was the impact the abuse had on the girl.

The judge said the injured party had required counselling and was plagued by feelings of self-hatred and guilt.

She assured the victim that nothing was her fault.

"I'm not of the view that she allowed herself to be manipulated; I'm of the view that she was manipulated," she said.

Ms O'Connor said it would be difficult not to have "some sympathy" for Humphries, not over what he did but at his dramatic fall from grace.

"Mr Humphries has lost his reputation, his livelihood, and most of his friends," she told the court.

"He is clearly remorseful and demonstrated that by his guilty pleas."

The judge gave Humphries some credit when passing sentence for pleading guilty, though she noted that he did not do so at the earliest opportunity.

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