Man jailed over nephew abuse

Published Friday, 01 August 2014
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A Co Armagh man branded by a judge as a "sexual predator'' has been jailed for five years for the "repeated and persistent'' sexual abuse of his young nephew.

Man jailed over nephew abuse
Abuse victim Micheal Donaghy spoke to the media outside court. (© UTV)

Thomas Francis Donaghy, 77 and of O'Callaghan Road, Silverbridge, was found guilty in June this year by a unanimous jury verdict of eight counts of gross indecency and eight counts of indecent assault on Micheal Donaghy.

The offences spanned a four year period over three decades ago - when the victim was aged ten - as he slept in his uncle's bed.

During a sentencing hearing, prosecution lawyer Geraldine McCullough told Newry Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, that Micheal Donaghy had been shunned by his father, mother, brother and sister since he first told them about the allegations.

"However, he has the continued support of his wife Sinead and children throughout these proceedings. The defendant still denies these offences and has shown no remorse.''

Ms McCullough added that the aggravating features in the case were that the sexual abuse took place at night when the Donaghy family were in bed; the breach of trust by an uncle on his nephew; and that no remorse had been shown.

Thomas Donaghy's defence barrister John Kearney QC said: "He hails from a country area. He has lost everything that was important to him.

"He has lost his good name and his reputation. He wants to move back to the area where he lives upon his release from prison."

Outlining the facts of the case, Judge Stephen Fowler QC said Micheal Donaghy would stay at his grandparents' family farmhouse in Silverbridge where his uncle also lived.

The judge said the victim had to sleep in his uncle's double bed as there was no other bedrooms available.

"Micheal Donaghy told the jury that he would go to bed in his T-shirt and pants," the judge said, adding that a sexual act was then performed on the child, who was then made repeat the act on his uncle.

"This abuse was repeated and sustained which started when Micheal was ten until he was 14 years of age. He was being manipulated by the defendant for his own selfish sexual gratification.''

The court heard that on one occasion, the defendant got on top of his nephew and carried out a degrading sexual act on him.

The judge said that the defendant had "had deliberately set about grooming and sexually abusing Micheal for his own sexual purpose'' from an early age which had caused the victim a "significant degree of harm which, in my view, was substantial''.

The court was also told that when Micheal Donaghy decided to tell his parents and his brother and sister about the abuse, "they didn't believe him and he was left feeling angry''.

Judge Fowler QC said that it wasn't until Micheal Donaghy's children reached the age that he was when he was abused that he "felt compelled to report the matters to the police''.

His uncle was later arrested by the PSNI and during interview, denied sexually abusing his nephew.

The defendant accused his nephew of making up the allegations saying Micheal Donaghy had found out he had left his land to another nephew.

"These matters were placed before the jury,'' said Judge Fowler QC, "and it was the cornerstone of the defendant's defence and which the jury duly rejected.''

Branding the defendant a "sexual predator'', the judge added: "This was sexual abuse carried out against a child who was vulnerable because of his age and who was in the formative years of his life.

"This abuse happened in his grandparents' home where he should have felt safe and where he should have been safe. The abuse was a serious breach of trust. The defendant was in a position of trust and told his victim that it would be their secret.

"The defendant has expressed no remorse and has given no insight into his conduct.''

The judge stated that the starting point for sentence was four years, but added that "this case merits an uplifting'' because of the aggravating features.

"This case involved significant planning and that's evident by the fact that the defendant kept this quiet from his parents when he was abusing the victim in a small farmhouse.

"The duration of this offending which took place over four years from 1981-1985. There was a significant age differential: he was in his mid-40s and his victim was a child of ten when the offending began.''

Judge Fowler QC added: "I am satisfied that this defendant poses a medium risk of sexual reoffending and there is a need to protect the public from serious harm from this defendant and that harm could be further sexual offending.''

Donaghy was jailed for five years concurrent on each of the eight counts of indecent assault. He received concurrent two-year prison terms for the eight counts of gross indecency.

The judge also banned him from working with children and ordered Donaghy to be subject to a Sexual Offenders' Prevention Order for five years.

Additionally, the defendant must also notify police within three days of his release of an address he plans to live at, any change of address, and also any plans to travel abroad for more than three days.

Speaking outside Laganside court complex on Friday following sentencing, Micheal Donaghy said he was "relieved'' that his uncle had finally been jailed.

"There are no winners in all of this,'' saId the 44-year-old.

"It is just a relief that it is finally all over and I don't have to come back to court.''

Asked about how his family had shunned him since he went to the police, Mr Donaghy replied: "I just have to move on with my life.''

He added: "I hope other victims out there in a similar position to me will now come forward and speak out because there is help available.

"I want to thank prosecution counsel Geraldine McCullough, the Public Prosecution Service, the PSNI, Nexus, Victim Support for all the support they gave me throughout this case.

"I also want to thank my close neighbours and friends for standing by me, for believing in me and for all their support and help.''

© UTV News
Comments Comments
4 Comments
leigh keating in kerry wrote (90 days ago):
Disgusting he didnt get enough jail time. And the family should be ashamed of them selfs.
lucylou in belfast wrote (90 days ago):
Well done Michael for being strong enough to finally report this horrid man. It's sad that your family reacted as they did when they learned what he had done to you. They maybe didn't want friends and neighbours to know what he was even though the shame for what he did is his. Their shame is in not supporting you in exposing him. I hope they can understand that you needed to see justice done to enable you to move on with your life and perhaps with your understanding of their misplaced shame you eventually reconcile. I wish you all you would wish for yourself for the future.
jack in belfast wrote (91 days ago):
ITS NOT LONG ENOUGH FIVE YEARS WHAT A JOKE THEY SHOULD THROW AWAY THE KEY, AS FOR HIS FAMILY SHAME ON THEM
disgusting in bangor wrote (91 days ago):
what a disgusting thing to do , abuse your nephew, he got the right jail term for abusing his position of trust.
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