A sex offender who received character witness testimony from a high profile GAA figure and former Fianna Fáil general election candidate is now behind bars.
This follows Judge Gerald Keys at Ennis Circuit Court ordering the committal to prison of Peter Power (55) of Lissycasey, Ennis.
In court earlier this month, Judge Keys imposed a two-year prison term on Mr Power and suspended the final 15 months of the sentence.
Mr Power was convicted in July of indecent assault by a jury of a nine-year-old girl in 1985 when Mr Power was aged 21.
On November 15 when imposing sentence, Judge Keys acceded to a request from Mr Power’s counsel, Patrick Whyms BL to defer Mr Power entering custody until today to allow him to get his affairs in order.
In court, Mr Power embraced with four supporters outside court before being led away by a prison officer inside the court to a holding cell below the courtroom to commence his prison term.
In sentencing, Judge Keys told Mr Power that “the court cannot ignore the fact that you have not shown any remorse for your conduct which has had a profound effect on your victim”.
Imposing sentence, Judge Keys said: “I am of the view that a portion of the sentence that should be imposed must be of a custodial nature.
At the sentencing hearing, former chairman of the Clare County GAA board and former Fianna Fáil general election candidate, Michael ‘Malty’ McDonagh appeared in the witness box to give character evidence of behalf of Mr Power who was raised in Caherrush, Quilty, west Clare.
A retired Garda detective, Mr McDonagh served two stints as chairman of the Clare County Board between 2003-07 and 2012-15 during which time Clare won the 2013 senior hurling All-Ireland.
The Miltown Malbay man missed out on a seat in the 2016 General Election after receiving 8.29% of vote with 4,726 first preference votes.
Asked to explain why he provided character evidence on behalf of Mr Power after the sentencing hearing, Mr McDonagh said earlier this month that he gave evidence following a request from Mr Power’s family.
He said: “I appeared because the family wanted their thoughts presented to the court and they were too traumatised to give evidence.”
Mr McDonagh was not in court for Judge Keys' judgement or Mr Power being led away to commence his sentence.
In sentencing, Judge Keys said that the aggravating factors in the case are that Mr Power was babysitting at the time the offence was committed.
He told Mr Power: “You abused the girl for your own sexual gratification. There was a serious breach of trust and the age of your victim at the time was nine and a half years of age."
Judge Keys said that the mitigating factors in the case were that Mr Power has no previous convictions; that there is no risk of re-offending mentioned during the sentencing hearing; that he has an unblemished record apart from the incident; that he has lost his good character for good and are registered as a sex offender; that he is convicted of one offence which was 33 years ago and that he has permanently lost his job as a Guest Service Manager in a hotel.
In the case, counsel for the State, Lorcan Connolly BL said that the indecent assault took place in January 1985 when Mr Power was baby-sitting the girl and her siblings.
The woman didn’t recall if she touched the man’s penis or not.
In her victim impact statement, the woman told the court: “I will never forgive him for what he did to me as a child and what he is doing to me as an adult.”
She said: “This man took away my childhood and most of my adult life.”
She said: “To have to see my abuser and his family after all these years made me feel like that vulnerable child all over again.”
She added: “I was relieved that the guilty verdict was given and that 12 strangers believed me. I feel I have been further persecuted because of having to go through this trial.”