June 2013

Teacher groomed and sexually abused boy who later became hooked on heroin

A teacher who groomed and sexually abused a boy later gave him thousands of euros to help him get clean of heroin, a court has heard.

A teacher who groomed and sexually abused a boy later gave him thousands of euros to help him get clean of heroin, a court has heard.

John O’Donoghue (53) of The Gallops in Sandyford, Dublin carried out the abuse on up to twenty occasions after pretending he wanted to wrestle with the ten-year-old boy.

The sentencing hearing at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the victim later dropped out of school and developed a heroin addiction as a result of the abuse.

By 12 years of age, the victim was sniffing lighter fluid, by 13 he was taking ecstasy which progressed to cocaine when he left home at 15 and then onto heroin. He also attempted suicide by taking pills but was saved by his father at the last minute.

Twenty years later he approached his abuser and asked for money for rehab. O’Donoghue ended up giving him €8,500 which he raised from the sale of his house.

The victim later went to gardai and O’Donoghue admitted everything. He pleaded guilty to five sample counts of indecent assault at his previous home in south Dublin between January 1989 and December 1991.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring remanded him in custody until next week when she will impose sentence.

O’Donoghue has been a teacher at St Tiernan’s School in Sandyford for thirty years but is currently on suspension and doesn’t believe he will retain his job. He was also a director of the Irish Table Tennis Association until he left his post as a result of the charges.

Detective Garda Sean Allen told Fiona Murphy BL, prosecuting, that the boy used to visit the accused regularly to mow the lawn and O’Donoghue would wrestle with the boy as an excuse to grope him.

This gradually progressed to more serious abuse including touching the child’s genitals, masturbating himself and ejaculating on the child. Afterwards he would bring him to the amusements or to get chips.

The child initially liked calling over to the house because O’Donoghue had all the latest videos and records. He said he thought the abuse was normal because it was so gradual and it seemed O’Donoghue “controlled his mind”. His parents thought he was in a friend’s house.

The abuse stopped when O’Donoghue moved away and the boy soon began to experience problems in school. By 12 years of age he was sniffing lighter fluid. By 13 he was taking ecstasy. He had previously enjoyed school but found he couldn’t concentrate and that he had to use drink and drugs to “deal with the memories.”

He moved out of home at 15 and began taking cocaine which progressed onto heroin. He was drinking heavily and always with older males. He attempted suicide by taking pills only to be saved by his father at the last minute.

The court heard that he wanted to get into rehab but his family couldn’t afford it. When he saw that O’Donoghue was selling his house he decided to ask him for the money as he blamed the abuse for his condition.

They met and over time O’Donoghue gave him several instalments totalling €8,500 to pay for rehab. They never mentioned the abuse but O’Donoghue promised to do whatever he could to help. On one occasion the victim got €1,000 from O’Donoghue which he used to pay his dealer.

A year later the victim made a statement to gardai and O’Donoghue was arrested. He made full admissions and said he only realised after the abuse that it was wrong.

He said he gave the victim money to help him and not to buy him off, although he hoped the gardai would not be alerted.

Mary Rose Gearty SC, defending, said that everything in O’Donoghue’s life revolved around the sport of table tennis and that this was now all gone as a result of these offences.

She pointed out that he voluntarily resigned rather than bring shame or disgrace on the association.

Counsel added that anytime he was ever asked for money by the victim he gave it to him “with no strings attached”.