Wheelchair-bound abuser has jail tern cut on appeal

A wheelchair-dependent man, jailed for sexually abusing a teenager whose family he visited from America over several summers, has had his prison sentence cut on appeal.

The 78-year-old resident of the US, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, pleaded guilty at Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of sexual assault, two counts of possessing child pornography, and one count of attempted buggery of a person under the age of 17 at various locations on various dates between 2000 and 2005.

He was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in jail by Judge Rory McCabe on June 14, 2016.

The man, who is largely wheelchair dependent due to ill-health, successfully appealed his sentence yesterday on grounds that the judge did not sufficiently consider his age and the difficulties associated with his medical conditions while in prison. He was resentenced to five years imprisonment by the Court of Appeal.

Giving judgment in the three-judge court, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said the man was a US resident who regularly visited Ireland. He became friendly with the victim’s family and eventually sought permission to take the victim to a swimming pool where he was staying.

While the then 12-year-old victim was getting changed in the dressing room, he was subjected to a relatively minor sexual assault.

The following summer, the victim was taken to the same hotel again on the pretext of being taken to the pool. He was brought to the man’s bedroom where he was paid £10 to expose himself and allow himself be photographed.

The following year, he was again taken to the same hotel and digitally anally penetrated.

The subject matter of the offences came to light in 2009 when the victim was aged 21. The man was arrested in a hotel room, released without charge but a file sent to the DPP, and he returned to America from where he was eventually extradited in 2014 — having spent nine months in custody in the US.

The victim described how the impact on him had been severe and it continues to affect him in all aspects. He felt the man had given him a life sentence, the Circuit Court heard.

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