December 2017

Irishman, 77, who sexually abused victim ‘at every opportunity’ for eight years avoids prison

AN IRISHMAN who sexually abused his victim ‘at every opportunity’ for eight years 40 years ago has avoided a prison term.

Danny O’Connor, a former hardware store manager, of Carhan, Cahersiveen, received a suspended sentence after being found guilty a jury after a six-day trial at the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee, Co Kerry.

O’Connor, now retired, had been a “cold, cunning” systematic abuser, the court heard.

“There is no doubt the behaviour of the accused was cold, cunning and systematic, remediated behaviour on a very young child,” Judge O’Donnell said, handing down judgment yesterday, November 30.

O’Connor was in his 30s and 40s and his victim was “only a child”, the judge said

He lifted reporting restrictions imposed at the beginning of the six-day trial earlier this month, but said the victim was not to be identified.

Prosecuting Counsel Tom Rice said “he must be named”, opposing a defence application O’Connor not be named.

O’Connor, a married man with no children, had denied 38 counts of indecent assault, in the historic abuse case relating to the period 1972 to 1980.

During the sentencing, the judge directly addressed the victim who was sitting in the well of the court: “You did nothing to be ashamed of. You did nothing wrong.”

The victim did not reveal the abuse he had been subjected to until recent years. In his victim impact statement he said he found the court case “traumatic”.

“At my youngest age, these episodes of abuse would leave me completely confused. I felt trapped,” he said.

As he grew older he began to realise that “this was all wrong,” but he was powerless to make it stop, he said

“Danny O’Connor would abuse me at every opportunity. Each episode of abuse ended only when Danny O’Connor decided,” he said in his victim impact statement.

During the trial, he gave details of five counts at various locations and said it began shortly after his sixth birthday in a little-used room where there was a piano.

The abuse also took place in a bedroom, in a shed and in a vehicle, as he grew to puberty.

He had confronted his abuser in 2008 and 2009. At one point at a funeral, O’Connor appeared to acknowledge the abuse but said it had only happened once. He had also offered to leave him money in his will, but the victim said he did not want his money.

O’Connor, who did not give direct evidence, maintained in interviews with gardaí “nothing untoward” had ever occurred.

On November 23, after a six-day trial, the jury of seven women and five men found him guilty by majority verdict on all counts.

O’Connor did not accept the validity of the jury’s verdict, Anthony Sammon, his Senior Counsel said.

Judge O’Donnell imposed terms of two years on five counts of indecent assault. The terms are to run concurrently but the judge said he was not going to jail him immediately and suspended the prison terms, “only” because of O’Connor’s life-threatening health issues.

More than 30 other counts of indecent assault were taken into consideration.