May 2019

Longford man jailed for indecent assault of nephew 40 years ago

A 59 year old Co Longford man has been sentenced to 12 months in prison after being found guilty of indecently assaulting his nephew almost 40 years ago.

A jury convicted Mel Greene, formerly of Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, but currently residing in the UK, in October 2018 on 15 separate counts between October 1 1979 and June 30 1980.

His victim, John Greene, who waived his right to anonymity at Friday’s sentencing, was five years old when the offending started.

A student at the local primary school, the victim was brought by the accused man to his bedroom at 16 St Patrick’s Terrace, Edgeworthstown on the proviso of showing his nephew a tape recorder in order to record him

The victim alleged those incidents took place two to three times a week for possibly two weeks.

Evidence was also heard of how the victim, on another occasion, was in his uncle’s bedroom where his trousers were taken down and would be masturbated by the accused.

He also recalled the accused, on other dates, putting his head under the bed covers while the accused was in bed before putting his penis in his nephew’s mouth.

From February 1980 onwards, the victim said the accused would also get him to put his hands under the bed covers and force him to masturbate his then 20-year-old uncle.

After a statement of complaint was made by the victim to gardaí, the accused man made a voluntary statement to police in the UK.

He confirmed that his nephew had attended his parent’s house during the dates which were subject to investigation but denied indecently assaulting the victim at any time.

At the four day trial, the accused provided an alibi on the first six counts with his sister Gretta and brother Christopher giving evidence that the accused was temporarily resident in England during the dates of when the offences took place.

This, however, was rejected by the jury who returned majority verdicts of 11 to one.

In a victim impact statement read out to the court by Mr Greene’s wife, Deirdre, the court heard how his uncle’s absence of an apology and denial over what had occurred brought with it “far reaching” implications for him and his family.

“Mel, I tried to contact you on three occasions but you never replied,” she said.

There was also a feeling of vindication, she added, over the jury’s verdict and noted how even though the abuse stays with the victim, by speaking out on it would likely increase the chances of eradicating it in other cases.

“It is too hard to put into words (the aftereffects of what transpired).

“There was shock, embarrassment, disbelief, shouting and tears.

“Mel, you never spoke in court. John did and had to endure hours of uncontrolled and relentless questioning.

“It was very clear the jury believed John Greene and found you, Mel, guilty on all charges.

“Coming into court may have represented an unacceptable risk of retraumatisation but by not pleading guilty or showing any type of remorse is mind boggling, insulting but not really unexpected.”

In determining sentencing, Judge Keenan Johnson praised John Greene for the “great courage, strength and tenacity” in both making a statement to gardaí and by the evidence given at the jury trial.

“It is clear that he (victim) does not seek vengeance but merely to highlight the devastating effects that child sexual abuse has not only on the victim, but also on the extended family,” he said.

During the course of the four day trial last year, Judge Johnson said he was very much aware of how trials of such nature can leave lasting and bitter effects on families.

However, he urged both sides to reflect on the trial and its outcome, with a view to “mend fences” provided there was a willingness to accept the jury’s verdict.

“I sincerely hope that there can be rapprochement within the family as I believe this will be of benefit to all parties,” he commented.

“Allowing bad feeling to fester going forward will serve no useful purpose other than prolong and exacerbate the emotional hurt and pain of everyone.”

Despite the historic nature of the offences committed, Judge Johnson added it was the court’s duty to impose a sentence which reflected the type of sanction that would have typically been handed down at the time.

It was equally incumbent on the judicial system, he said, to weigh up both aggravating and mitigating factors.

The former, he said, included both the nature and propensity of the offending, adding the use of a tape recorder along with attempts by the accused to keep the abuse secret represented an “element of grooming”.

In terms of mitigation, Judge Johnson said the accused man’s willingness to cooperate with UK police at the time of the incidents coming to light and a probation report which indicated the 59-year-old’s low risk of re-offending, were factors to consider.

His poor health and numerous testimonials in support of his character and the fact offences of such nature carry “considerable public ignominy” represented a certain degree of punishment in itself, he added.

He sentenced Mel Greene to 18 months in prison, suspending the final six months of that term for a period of five years.

In doing so, he attempted to explain the rationale behind the judgement and how the severity of the sentence might be deemed.

“I appreciate that the victim may feel that the sentence imposed is unduly lenient, however it has to be put into context of the sentencing options available t the court and the realisation that the maximum sentence which the court could impose before mitigation is, in reality, two to three years,” he said.

Judge Johnson said this was largely due to the fact the nature of the offending ranked in the mid to upper range, the accused man’s age, his previously unblemished record and health difficulties.

“I hope John Greene will understand the reasoning behind the court’s judgement and the constraints which bind the court’s determination,” added the judge.

The court heard how the victim recalled sitting on his uncle’s knee and having his voice recorded before the accused rubbed the victim’s body against his crotch area.