May 2019

No punishment for Bradford church worker who sexually abused boys

A Bradford church worker who committed a string of sexual offences against young boys has been sentenced to an absolute discharge because he has dementia and was unfit to stand trial.

David Hennessey, 74, a former Sunday School teacher, was not present at Bradford Crown Court this week because he was found by doctors to be “under a disability.”

The jury had to determine if he did the acts alleged against him by his victims, now men in their sixties.

Hennessey, formerly of Marlborough Street, Shipley, Bradford, was charged with ten counts of indecent assault on a male person and three charges of indecency with a child, all dating back to the 1960s and 1970s.

On Wednesday, the jury found he did the acts alleged against him except for one charge they could not decide on.

Judge David Hatton QC discharged them from giving a ruling on that count.

The judge made an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order banning Hennessey, now of Belle Green Close, Cudworth, Barnsley, of having unsupervised contact with boys.

The only sentences available for defendants ruled unfit to stand trial are a Hospital Order for a treatable illness, that was not relevant in Hennessey’s case, a probation order, that was again not an option, and an absolute discharge.

Prosecutor David McGonigal said Hennessey was almost caught by the Archdeacon when he was sexually assaulting a boy in Bradford Diocesan Office in North Parade.

He molested the boys through his involvement with a Sunday School and a church choir in Bradford.

Hennessey sexually abused boys aged between eight and 16 at his home, in the Diocesan Office, at the cinema and on church camping trips.

Mr McGonigal said Hennessey was a trusted figure in the church community at that time.

He befriended the boys, preyed on their vulnerabilities and made them feel special to abuse them.

One man told the court he was aged 11 or 12 when Hennessey molested him on several occasions.

He told the jury Hennessey would close the curtains at his home, undo his trousers and touch him indecently.

The witness said he felt “awkward, uncomfortable and embarrassed.”

“I can’t believe I didn’t tell anyone,” the man said.

He told the court Hennessey also abused him in a tent on a camping trip. He woke to find his hand on his private parts but he quickly removed it when he realised the child was now awake.