October 2015

Former Scout leader jailed for abusing boys on camping trips

A former Dublin Scout leader who sexually abused six young boys on camping trips in the late 1970s and early 1980s has been jailed for 4½ years.

David O’Brien (63) would unzip the boys’ sleeping bags during the night, reach under their pyjamas and fondle their private parts, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.

He forced one boy to masturbate him in secluded areas on different trips, according to Garda Sheila White.

The court heard he also clasped his hand around another boy’s mouth as he fondled him on a separate trip.

O’Brien, of Benburb Street, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of indecently assaulting six males in Dublin, Kilkenny and Cork between 1975 and 1980.

Judge Martin Nolan noted the “harrowing” victim impact reports handed in by the men in which several described being suicidal throughout their lives as a result of O’Brien’s abuse.

One man called him “a coward, a pervert, a paedophile” and said the scouts was “nothing more than a hunting ground for (O’Brien’s) depraved pleasure.”

The judge noted that the offences took place in the 1970s and early 1980s and said the maximum sentence that could be handed down for any individual offence was two years because of the law in force at the time.

He said it was within the court’s discretion to impose consecutive sentences “when justice demands it.”

He imposed three consecutive sentences of two years and suspended the final 18 months, meaning an effective jail sentence of 4½ years.

The judge said O’Brien had used his position of trust and authority to abuse the boys and that the offences were planned and premeditated.

He took into account that O’Brien has lead a “somewhat torturous existence” since the abuse and that he lives in a hostel “in social isolation”.

Garda White told Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, that gardaí­ and the HSE were notified by O’Brien’s counsellor after he admitted sexually abusing young boy scouts over 30 years ago.

She said the now adult victims were contacted and each gave Garda statements in 2014.

She agreed with Michael Bowman SC, defending, that O’Brien leads an isolated life, is a chronic alcoholic and has had “a multiplicity of inpatient stays” at psychiatric institutions.

Garda White further agreed that O’Brien, a former postman, suffered a breakdown in his 30s and had not abused boys since the 1980s.

One man, now aged 52, read a victim impact statement to the court in which he described how he has battled with depression, addiction and social anxiety for decades as a result of the abuse.

He graphically depicted O’Brien’s assaults and said he had been suicidal and had suffered nightmares and sleepless nights for decades. He added: “I just want one f**king day without David O’Brien.”

Another man took the witness box to read his victim impact statement, in which he described himself as a “survivor” with stability now at the age of 50.

He revealed he had been suicidal and had a “lifelong struggle” with depression and alcohol, but he “takes some comfort” that O’Brien will be jailed.

Ms Small read the Victim Impact Statement of a third man, now 47 years old, who didn’t wish to take the witness stand.

It outlined how he had spent time as an inpatient after being suicidal on several occasions. The man said O’Brien could have targeted him because he was a “shy, quiet child”.