Psychiatrist to give evidence in Westmeath child-abuse case

The sentence of a Westmeath man for sexually assaulting three young girls has been adjourned by Judge Joseph Matthews at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court so that he can hear evidence from a psychiatrist.

The sentence of a Westmeath man for sexually assaulting three young girls has been adjourned by Judge Joseph Matthews at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court so that he can hear evidence from a psychiatrist.

The 44-year-old man was convicted by a jury on May 17 last of having sexually assaulted the girls, aged seven to 11 years, at north Dublin and Roscommon addresses variously on April 16 and September 10, 2002, and on May 1, 2005.

Judge Matthews has previously directed that the man who now lives in Co Roscommon be registered as a sex offender. He cannot be named for legal reasons arising out of his relationship to the victims.

Defence counsel, Mr Bernard Madden SC (with Ms Monika Leech BL), told Judge Matthews that Dr John Bogue, a consultant psychiatrist had prepared a report on their client which he suggested was "in broad agreement" with the Probation Report before the court.

Mr Madden said Dr Bogue believed the man was at a low risk of re-offending and could be suitable for "community treatment " if dealt with non-custodially. He would like to have Dr Bogue in court to give evidence but he was out of the country at present.

Judge Matthews said he had been impressed "by the insightful report" presented by Probation Officer, Ms Mary O'Sullivan, which had suggested the possibility of dealing with the defendant in the community but noted what he called the man's "ambiguous at best" attitude to his wrongdoing.

"It appears from the Probation Report that there is the beginning of insight into his wrongdoing by his saying that if in some way he has hurt the girls he is sorry and that no child deserves to be hurt," he said.

Judge Matthews said, however, that while the man appeared to be starting to be aware of a problem he had difficulty in acknowledging his "opportunistic offending" against the victims whom he had targeted .

He said he wanted to explore "all the options" for therapy for the man, whether in custody or in the community. "I have to take the interests of the community as well as of the victims and the accused into consideration in deciding on sentence," he said.

Judge Matthews added that he needed to have more information about the programmes that were available for child sex offenders and especially what a community based programme might involve

The jury took almost five hours to return guilty verdicts on four charges and found him not guilty on one count. One guilty verdict was unanimous, two were by 11-1 majority and one by 10-2 majority.

Two of the guilty verdicts related to one victim and one each to two other girls. The offending involved indecent touching and the victims gave their evidence via video-link.

Judge Matthews remanded the man on continuing bail on strict conditions including that he reside at a specific Roscommon address; maintain a curfew from 11.30 pm to 7.30 am; sign-on at Athlone Garda Station three times per week; not apply for a new passport; and not attempt to make any contact with the victims or members of their families.

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