Victims campaigner lashes out at media gag for pervert who abused 10 boys in Seventies
A court has gagged the media from naming a paedophile who sexually abused 10 boys at a Northern Ireland children’s home.
The pensioner was in court last Wednesday to be sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for three years, for a series of attacks on an 11-year-old boy in the late 1970s.
He has previous convictions for carrying out similar sexual assaults on nine other victims during the same period and was a visitor to the notorious Kincora Boys Home, although his crimes were committed elsewhere.
A judge upheld a ban on the press identifying the predator over fears it would breach his Article 2 right to life entitlement and could lead to vigilante attacks.
This came despite the court conceding that his most recent victim, who is now aged in his 50s, has waived his own right to anonymity.
The decision has stunned justice campaigners as the paedophile featured in the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry.
The government investigation discovered a catalogue of sexual and physical abuse inflicted on children in care settings in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995. It also led to politician and church apologies, and compensation pay-outs to survivors totalling £26m.
Margaret McGuckian, whose SAVIA (Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse) charity campaigned for the HIA inquiry, is shocked that a paedophile who featured in the report has been granted anonymity.
“This man was sentenced in court last Wednesday for three counts of indecent assault on an 11-year-old boy in the 1970s,” said Margaret.
“He is named in the HIA inquiry in relation to sex crimes committed on other boys during the same period. His latest victim has also waived his right to anonymity.
“I cannot understand why the courts are now banning the media from naming him — his name is already out there. In the 40 years since he was first in court he has never been the target of vigilantes. Why would he suddenly be now?”
Margaret believes decisions like this “let down” sexual abuse survivors, particularly those who were targeted in care homes.
She added: “It just feeds into the public perception that the authorities care more about the rights of offenders than they do victims.”
The court which sentenced the paedophile heard how he was unanimously convicted by a jury of three counts of indecent assault following a trial earlier this year.
A judge described the defendant’s behaviour which involved “touching, squeezing and penetrating” the 11-year-old as “disturbing and disquieting”. This was carried out under the guise of “punishment”.
His victim eventually contacted police in 2018 leading to the paedophile’s arrest and conviction earlier this year. The court was told the child sex predator has nine previous convictions for indecent assaults on nine other boys for which he received an absolute discharge in court several decades ago.
It was revealed that he is “sorry” for what happened, but probation officers who assessed him found he displays a limited insight into the impact of his offending.
His victim, the judge revealed, later turned to drugs to deal with being abused. He developed a 10-year amphetamine addiction and was unable to maintain relationships with family and friends.
However, he is now coping and was able to give evidence at the trial of the paedophile who ruined his life.
A statement read to court said the sex abuse survivor “intends to live my life now that this huge burden that has weighed me down over 40 years is lifted”.
Sentencing the paedophile, the judge said it was only though an “act of mercy” that he was suspending his two-year prison sentence for three years, having “agonised” about the decision. He said he was taking into consideration the defendant’s age, medical problems and the fact he had not committed a crime in 40 years.
The judge also imposed a ban on the media naming him because of his Article 2 right to life entitlement.
A barrister for the paedophile, who is now banned from being with children aged 16 or under without prior approval, told the judge that the risk against his client is “more crystallised when the defendant is at liberty rather than in custody”.