82-year-old jailed for abusing girl (8) fifty years ago has jail term cut on appeal

An 82-year-old man jailed for indecently assaulting an eight-year-old girl 50 years ago has had his jail term cut on appeal.

Jack Donohue (82), of Holdenstown, Baltinglass, Co Wicklow, had pleaded guilty to two counts of indecently assaulting an eight year old girl in the county on dates between September 1, 1968 and September 11, 1969.

He was sentenced at Wicklow Circuit Crimnal Court to two years imprisonment with the final six months suspended by Judge Michael O'Shea on April 7, 2017.

82-year-old jailed for abusing girl (8) fifty years ago has jail term cut on appeal

Donohue successfully appealed his sentence today with the Court of Appeal holding that a greater portion of his two year term ought to have been suspended given the 82-year-old's poor health and frailty.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice George Birmingham said the victim grew up on a family farm where Donohue worked. In addition, he was a family friend and spent much of his time about the house.

When the victim was aged eight, Donohue began indecently assaulting her.

The offending took place when the victim was aged eight and Donohue would have been in his early thirties.

The abuse has had a very serious and lifelong impact on the victim, the judge said.

Donohue had no previous convictions and was otherwise of good character. He lived a quiet, isolated life and never married.

Mr Justice Birmingham said a medical report from his GP indicated that he did not enjoy good health. He has chronic obstructive airways disease, irregular heartbeat, enlarged prostate, a hernia, anxiety and depression.

Counsel for Donohue, Philip Sheahan SC, submitted that his client's sentence was inappropriately long, that it did not reflect the fact that the offending occurred 50 years ago and, furthermore, that for an 82-year-old an 18-month jail term was a “very long sentence”. The maximum sentence for indecent assault at the time was two years, the court heard.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the Court of Appeal was in no doubt about the seriousness of the offending and that the impact on the victim had been “really, very, very serious indeed”.

He said there had to be custody and the court did not disagree with the selection of two years as the headline sentence.

In so far as the judge was required to sentence an 82-year-old in poor health, the balance between the portion to be actually served and suspended was “inappropriate”.

Given Donohue's poor health and frailty, Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Hedigan, said a greater portion fo the sentence should have been suspended.

The court resentenced him to two years imprisonment with the final 15 months suspended.

More on this topic

Gascoigne describes sex assault allegations as ‘year of hell’Gascoigne describes sex assault allegations as ‘year of hell’

Teen kicked mum outside courtTeen kicked mum outside court

€108k for psychiatric nurse's injuries in fall and car crash€108k for psychiatric nurse's injuries in fall and car crash

‘Medication made mother an addict’- family of woman who died by suicide‘Medication made mother an addict’- family of woman who died by suicide


More in this Section

Fifth of college students from ‘affluent’ homes - studyFifth of college students from ‘affluent’ homes - study

Second Fianna Fáil TD admits voting in another party member’s nameSecond Fianna Fáil TD admits voting in another party member’s name

Founder of air ambulance charity declared bankruptFounder of air ambulance charity declared bankrupt

Two divers rescued off south Dublin coastTwo divers rescued off south Dublin coast


Lifestyle

'When a role became available in The River Lee following the refurbishment, I jumped at the chance!'You've Been Served: Sinead McDonald of The River Lee on life as a Brand Manager

It’s the personal stories from Bruce Springsteen that turn his new ‘Western Stars’ documentary into something special, the director tells Esther McCarthy.Bruce Springsteen's Western Stars documentary more than just a music film

Apart from the several variations in its spelling in Irish and English, Inishtubbrid, Co Clare is also recognised by three other names: Wall’s Island; O’Grady’s Island and Inishtubber which surely puts it up there as the island with most names — not counting say Inisvickillane, Co Kerry which has about 33 variations to that spelling.The Islands of Ireland: In search of tranquility

More and more communities and volunteers are taking on environmental tasks around the country. In Clonmel, Co Tipperary, for example, people have united to get rid of Himalayan balsam, an invasive plant, from the banks of the River Suir.‘Bashing’ invasive plants

More From The Irish Examiner