Former swimming coach jailed for sex assaults on boys

Ger Doyle, who appeared at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court yesterday for sentencing.

Ger Doyle, who appeared at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court yesterday for sentencing.

Fri, Jan 29, 2010, 00:00

FORMER IRISH Olympic coach Ger Doyle was sentenced to 6½ years in prison yesterday for sexually assaulting five boys at the swimming pool he managed.

Doyle (49), Emmet Place, Wexford, who was convicted by jury on 34 counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault on November 4th, was sentenced yesterday by Judge Alice Doyle at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court.

Doyle was acting national coach at the Athens Olympics in 2004 and was involved in training many successful Irish swimmers.

He was also manager of New Ross swimming pool for more than two decades, where the incidents occurred between January 1981 and December 1993.

Roderick O’Hanlon SC, prosecuting, said Doyle had assaulted five boys aged between 10 and 15 over those years, some of whom he was involved in coaching.

Sgt Mary Murphy from New Ross Garda station said the children were often abused after they were found to have been misbehaving in the swimming pool.

One of the victims had his pants pulled down and his bottom smacked, before he was touched intimately by Doyle. Sgt Murphy said these sexual assaults changed every aspect of the victim’s life.

She said one of the victims had significant anger about what happened to him as a child. She said another victim still suffered from panic attacks and anxiety.

John O’Kelly, defending, said his client has no previous convictions. He lived with his sister Ann, and his parents had died.

Mr O’Kelly outlined his client’s success as a swimming coach, saying he transformed New Ross swimming club, leading its swimmers to national and international success.

He said Doyle coached an Olympian swimmer, 10 world champion qualifiers, while his swimmers broke 100 national senior records and 150 national junior records. He said Doyle became a national figure in swimming and was appointed coach of the Olympic team for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Mr O’Kelly said his client has suffered from health problems since 2000 and would remain on medication for the rest of his life.

“This has been a terrible fall from grace. Now he finds himself in a position at 49 years of age where everything he achieved has been destroyed,” Mr O’Kelly added.

“He has moved from somebody who, through hard work and dedication, had become a national figure to somebody who is now a pariah. It’s a shocking and terrible position he finds himself in.”

Judge Doyle said Doyle breached the trust of children under his care and of their parents. “He used his position to sexually assault these children. These crimes were done with premeditation. They were carefully planned. They required secrecy . . . These children were put under pressure to keep these crimes a secret.”

The judge said that having to give evidence in the six-day trial caused further trauma to Doyle’s victims. “There appears to be a complete absence of insight or remorse. There has been a failure to express any element of the consequences of his conduct and that is extremely worrying.”

Judge Doyle sentenced Doyle to nine months in jail on the sexual assault count, saying it was at the lower end of the scale in terms of its severity.

She sentenced him to a consecutive nine months for indecently assaulting one of his victims whom he smacked. She gave Doyle two 18-month sentences for indecent assaulting two of his victims to run consecutively and a two-year consecutive sentence for abusing one of his victims over seven years.

She also ordered him to complete a four-year post-release supervision programme. The sentence was backdated to the day of his conviction in November.

Judge Doyle ordered Doyle to attend the probation and welfare services, adding that this may give him some insight into his behaviour and protect the community from any chance that he might reoffend.