June 2015

Nine years jail for man who abused three young girls

A 45-year-old Wexford man who abused his two nieces and another girl has been sentenced to nine years in prison having been found guilty on eighteen charges of sexual assault.

Walter Leacy, of Butlerstown, Broadway, was told by Judge Alice Doyle at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court that for almost three decades he had breached his position of trust.

Leacy had been found guilty by a jury on four counts of sexually assaulting each of his two nieces, Karen Walsh and Chloe Walsh, and ten counts of sexually assaulting the other girl.

Sinead Gleeson, prosecuting, told the court at the sentencing hearing that the three victims wished to waive their anonymity so that their abuser could be named.

Judge Doyle granted the application in relation to Karen Walsh and Chloe Walsh, while also granting the application in relation to the other girl following further deliberation because she was under 18 years of age.

Garda Robert Aylward said when he spoke to Karen Walsh she told him that a number of years earlier, when Walter Leacy would come to their house, she would sit in the sitting room with him.

Ms Walsh said Walter Leacy would put pornography on the television and try to show her how to kiss in preparation for having a boyfriend in future years. He would also feel her breast area and private parts.

Garda Aylward said that Karen Walsh made a statement on October 17, 2011. At the time of the offences she was eight to nine years of age.

The Garda said Chloe Walsh was a sister of Karen’s and a niece of the defendant’s wife, Monica. After Chloe had been in Temple Street Hospital, the defendant would bring her over to his house as she was friendly with his daughter. He would stop the car in a laneway, telling her he was going to fix her hips and would then interfere with her.

Chloe Walsh also recalled the defendant coming into the bedroom during the night and interfering with her. At the time she was seven to eight years of age. Garda Aylward said that she made a full statement on October 18, 2010.

The youngest girl told the Garda that the defendant would interfere with her when she was around seven years of age. She said she was aged eleven to thirteen years of age when some of the abuse occurred.

Garda Aylward said he investigated the complaints, arrested Walter Leacy and brought him to Wexford Garda Station in December 2011 where, in two interviews, he made no admissions.

He told the sentencing hearing that Leacy was found guilty on all eighteen counts by a jury and that all three victims were present in court for the sentencing.

In a victim impact statement, the youngest victim said: ‘You drained me of my self esteem and confidence. You terrified me and destroyed my childhood. I hope I never see your face again, Walter Leacy.

‘I’m beginning to enjoy my life now, making every day happy knowing that you will never be back in my life again.’

Chloe Walsh, in her victim impact statement, said: ‘you made a massive impact on my life and destroyed my childhood. As a teenager I was terrified and afraid to make friends. I never forgot what you did to me and often cried when alone. I never wanted you, I never wanted you to be my friend, and never want to see your face again.’

Also, in a victim impact statement, Karen Walsh said: ‘what you did to me as a child impacted on my life. When I went to school I was bullied. I hope you know what you did to me was wrong and you took advantage of me as a child.’

Garda Aylward told the court the defendant is a married man with eight children.

Rosario Boyle, for the defence, said that since this happened the defendant has been separated from his wife and that since his incarceration he has had no contact with his two sons. Until the recession he had a job and provided for his family.

In evidence, Veronica Leacy, sister of the defendant, said there were 15 children in the family and they grew up in a small cottage.

She said that when Walter (Leacy) married he moved down Rosslare way to live and that since the recession he has not had a paid job. In 2011 he moved out of the family home, coming back to Blackwater to live.

Ellen Turner, partner of the defendant, told the court that she met Walter Leacy after he separated from his wife. She said she had been married but separated. She is now married to Walter Leacy for three years but they have no children. She visited him in Cloverhill Prison where he was on 23-hour lock-up because of the nature of the crimes and the reaction of other prisoners. He has since moved to the Midlands Prison because of the difficulties he had been experiencing.

Judge Doyle said Leacy had been found guilty on eighteen counts of sexual assault stretching back over almost three decades. His first victim was his wife’s niece, the crimes dating from July 1987 to June 1999, and the second victim another niece, with the offences taking place between January 2002 and December 2002. The offences against the youngest victim occurred between November 1, 2008, and July 2011.

‘ These are very serious offences, committed over three decades. They happened in a consistent way, taking each in turn, at different times for different victims,’ said Judge Doyle. ‘ They were of a vile manner but the accused continues to protest his innocence. However, the girls were very brave to have made the allegations.’

‘It was the accused’s right to have a trial but one still has to recognise the trauma the families and victims went through. The fact that he continues to deny the offences makes it more difficult for the court. I will take into account he was bullied in school, and that he attended Our Lady of Fatima school.

‘ This was a breach of trust from a man in position of authority. I will also take into a account that his incarceration has been difficult and that he had been on 23-hour lock-up. But what I cannot understand is that he maintains his innocence on one hand but also expresses his willingness to undertake treatment. I find that difficult to understand.’

Judge Doyle said she would sentence the defendant to three years in relation to each of the three victims, the sentences to run consecutively, making it a total of nine years in prison.

She refused an application to suspend a portion of the sentences and said Leacy must sign on to the sex offenders register, and participate in a sex offenders programme. She backdated the sentence to February 17, the date he was remanded in custody, and refused leave to appeal.