School caretaker jailed for 18 years

A DONEGAL caretaker who kept his job at a school despite a conviction for sexually assaulting a pupil has been sentenced to 18 years for the rape and sexual assault of four more boys.

Michael Ferry, aged 55, abused the four boys on an almost weekly basis, some for as long as four years. He groomed them by supplying them with alcohol, cigarettes and money. He would also make them watch pornography with him, with one boy reporting to gardaí that the man had shown him child pornography.

Mr Justice Paul Carney said the authorities must have been aware that Ferry had a conviction for a similar offence yet he continued working in the school.

“A disturbing feature of this case is that the outrages perpetrated in the school predate and postdate the sexual assault of a pupil in the same school for which he was placed on the sex offenders register for five years,” the judge said.

“Despite the fact that he pleaded guilty to sexual assault in 2002 he remained working in the school to continue to engage in the stalking and grooming with which we are concerned with today.

“This must have been known to the local gardaí and presumably the school authorities.”

Mr Justice Carney noted thatFerry was not identified in media reports of the 2002 conviction because the district court judge at the time ordered that he remain anonymous. This was because the victim knew Ferry’s mother was ill and the judge did not want to upset her.

After yesterday’s sentencing, Mr Justice Carney refused to make an order that Ferry not be identified in reports.

“Look what happened the last time,” he told defence counsel. “I don’t see how publication of his name could identify any particular victim.”

Mr Justice Carney took into account Ferry’s guilty plea and “genuine remorse”, but also noted that he had abused a position of trust and engaged in the “systematic grooming of the boys”.

He imposed an 18-year sentence with the final four suspended. He ordered Ferry be registered as a sex offender and that he never have contact with his victims again.

Ferry, of Bunbeg, Gweedore, Co Donegal, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to 38 sample charges which included 17 oral and anal rapes, 18 sex assaults, one indecent assault and two charges of production of child pornography on dates between July 1, 1990, and September 31, 2005.

The charges in relation to production of child pornography occurred when Ferry took photographs of two of the boys while they were naked.

Ferry told one victim to imagine it was “a girl doing it to you” while he masturbated him after supplying him with whiskey.

Two of the boys later told gardaí that they were abused by Ferry in the school after he got them so drunk they were afraid to go home to their parents. Another said he woke up from a vodka-induced sleep to find himself lying naked and with his back passage sore and bleeding.

Ferry had been earlier convicted for two incidents of indecent assault at the same school in 1985 and 1986. He was registered as a sex offender and received a six-month suspended sentence.


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