November 2017

Convicted child abuser sentenced for indecent images

A former teacher and table tennis coach from Dublin who was found in possession of thousands of child sexual abuse images has been jailed for one year.

John O’Donoghue (58) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court earlier this year to a single count of possessing the pornographic material at his former home in Weaver’s Hall, Stepaside, Dublin on March 27, 2012.

The court was told that O’Donoghue, with an address at Leinster Square, Rathmines, has four previous convictions for indecent assault of a young boy in 2013, for which he received a 3½ year sentence with the final 18 months suspended.

Handing down a fresh two-year sentence with the final year suspended today, Judge Patricia Ryan noted there had been a systemic delay in bringing the matter to court.

Garda Brian Davoren previously told Antonia Boyle BL, prosecuting, that gardaí searched O’Donoghue’s premises on foot of confidential information received in 2008.

They retrieved a total of 2,500 images and 13 movie files of child abuse images contained on a computer, laptop, memory stick and two external hard drives.

The court heard that 496 of the images displayed children involved in explicit sexual activity, while a further 2,048 of the images showed a child with their genital region exposed.

Of the 13 movie files retrieved by gardaí, two contained explicit sexual activity involving children, while 11 contained a child with their genital region exposed.

Judge Ryan noted that had the child pornography offence been dealt with at the same time as the indecent assault matter, then the consequences for O’Donoghue might have been different.

She noted a number of aggravating factors, including the effect the offending had on the children involved, but said the delay in bringing the case to court had to be taken into account.

The court heard that when O’Donoghue was arrested in December 2016 and shown the computers seized from his former home, he said, “It’s not my PC.”

When told about the images discovered by gardaí, O’Donoghue said he “wasn’t aware” that they were on his equipment and added, “Look, I find this to be disgusting and I do not look at child pornography. The fact that children may have been hurt in making these – I am seriously upset about that.”

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”.