Judge orders sale of sex abuser’s house to pay damages to nephew

A judge has ordered the sale of the home of a convicted paedophile.

John O’Neill sexually abused his nephew, Keith Battersby, when the child was only six years old.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane said she is satisfied O’Neill has waited long enough to repay Mr Battersby, the €100,000 damages that he was ordered to pay him four years ago.

Last year, Judge Linnane heard that O’Neill, now a 51-year-old jobless law student, had been paying his nephew €50 a week.

Barrister Cathy Smith, counsel for Mr Battersby, had told the court that O’Neill had “sporadically and irregularly” been paying €50 a week to his nephew over the last four years with only €6,630 paid off the debt.

She said Mr Battersby was seeking a well-charging order against O’Neill’s home at 86 Sarsfield Park, Lucan, Co Dublin and, if necessary, orders for possession and sale of it.

In 2012, Keith Battersby, then aged 36, of Coill Fada, Longwood, Co Meath, sued his uncle who, he said, had committed 12 sexual assaults on him between 1982 and 1984. The abuse occurred in O’Neill’s home and in the projection room of the Grove Cinema in Lucan where O’Neill worked at the time and had started when Mr Battersby was aged just six.

The then High Court President, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, awarded him €100,000 and costs for “horrific experiences”.

Ms Smith, who appeared with Pearse Mehigan Solicitors, said there is still about €93,000 outstanding and Mr Battersby wants payment of the award so he can finally get on with his life.

O’Neill, who represented himself in the Circuit Civil Court, said he had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sexually assaulting his nephew. He was given a two-year suspended sentence and had not defended his nephew’s claim for damages in 2012.

O’Neill said he had been a law student for the last four years and hopes on qualification to get a job and pay off his debt to his nephew.

Judge Linnane said at the rate of €50 a week, it would take him almost 40 years paying off the debt. By that time O’Neill would be 91 and his nephew 80 if both survived. “And I certainly won’t be around,” the judge said.

Yesterday, Judge Linnane said she was satisfied the court has jurisdiction to deal with the matter and she made an order directing the sale of O’Neill’s house.

Refusing an application by O’Neill to allow a six-month stay on the order, until September, Judge Linnane said a court-ordered sale would not be concluded by that time anyway.


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