Scout master and GAA referee jailed for child sex abuse

Patrick McQuillan abused six male victims in Antrim

Photograph: Reuters

Photograph: Reuters


A Co Antrim man was today jailed for a total of 11 years for the sex abuse of six children over nearly 20 years.

Judge Gordon Kerr QC told father of four, Patrick Francis McQuillan, that he was passing consecutive sentences because in his “view it is entirely reflect the totality of your offending”.

McQuillan (62), a father of four, abused his victims from the early 1980s to 2000.

This represented a sustained “course of sexual offending over a significant period of years with multiple victims”, Judge Kerry said in Antrim Crown Court.

McQuillan, from Moyle Avenue, Ballycastle, was convicted last month of 38 offences ranging from indecent assault, gross indecency, to the attempted rape of two of his victims, used his position as a GAA referee, scout master, member of St John’s Ambulance and part-time fireman man to abuse the boys.

“In each case your abuse, of necessity, caused various degrees of pyscholigical and emotional harm to your young victims. The only possible result of your conduct is a lengthy period of immediate imprisonment,” said Judge Kerr, who also put McQuillan on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life, banned him from working with children or vulnerable adults and made him the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for the next 15 years.

As Judge Kerr detailed the abuse of each of the victims, he said they had been left with ‘adjustment disorders’, and he noted that in each case “there was a damaging effect upon the victims”. This, the judge said, was “inevitable” having regard to McQuillan’s abuse, which he still “resolutely” refused to acknowledge.

His trial had heard McQuillan had abused his victims either in his or their homes, and some of his victims were regularly abused for a number of years.

Judge Kerr said in one case McQuillan, who knew his victim through scouting, indecently assaulted him while on the pretext of teaching him to swim.

In two other cases assaults took place while either showing his victims his St John’s Ambulance equipment, or pretending to demonstrate how to stop bleeding. In yet another occasion he sexually abused a victim in the local fire station.

McQuillan originally faced a total of 51 child sex abuse charges, involving seven complaints.

Last month, the jury, of seven men and five women who spent more than six hours deliberating, over two days, acquitted him of indecently assaulting a girl. They also failed to reach verdicts in two other counts. In addition to acquitting him of indecently assaulting the girl, the jury also cleared him of 10 other charges involving five of his six male victims.

However, McQuillan was convicted, either on unaminous or majority verdicts, of sexually abusing all six of his male victims from when they were young children until they were in their teens.

Defence barrister Brian McCartney QC said McQuillan had a clear criminal record and that there were “no allegation of violence from any of the complainants”, nor any “allegations of threats, blackmail or cohersion.”

“It is one of the ironies and a sad aspect of this case that this was a man who was genuinely acknowledged as a man who had the interests of his community at heart,” said Mr McCartney.

However, his convictions had now put a “stain on this man’s otherwise impeccable character,” and that prison, given his age and failing health, “will pose an element of hardship.”