Smyth 'a continuing risk' despite his age


Jailing Brendan Smyth for 12 years yesterday, Judge Cyril Kelly said he considered him to be a continuing risk to the community, despite his age. All the evidence pointed to Smyth's criminal behaviour being ongoing. This was a unique case.

Judge Kelly posed the question: "Is the defendant likely to re-offend?", and added: "In my view, yes."

He based his view on a number of criteria, including the psychiatric reports, sex offender course reports from Smyth's time in Magilligan Prison in Co Derry, his refusal to co-operate with the probation officer after going into remand in Arbour Hill in April, and the fact that Smyth himself was aware he presents a risk.

When being driven to Magilligan Prison on three occasions in April 1995 after interviews he became sexually excited when he saw three different school girls on the street in Coleraine. "Age therefore may not be a factor of mitigation," said Judge Kelly.

He was not satisfied that there was any adequate relapse prevention structure to cope with, supervise or treat Smyth on his release from custody. He couldn't accept either that the Norbertine Religious Community, of which Smyth has been a member for more than 50 years, could guarantee he would not have access to children on his release.

"He would have to be subject to close supervision by professional agencies. On all these grounds I would be fearful of his re-entry into the community," said Judge Kelly.

Smyth was clearly a very intelligent person, but he was also a paedophile and had been diagnosed as suffering from a recognised psychological disorder which made him a "fixated paedophile". That was a person whose "interest in children has been consistent throughout the years and generally exhibits no guilt or shame over this kind of behaviour, little or no remorse, no insight into the disorder and essentially no motivation to change".

"The psychological problems are so deep-rooted as to defy the efforts of psychotherapists. Traditional goals of management and cure are very rarely achieved and research indicates a high rate of recidivism." A fixated paedophile may pose a life-long risk, the judge added.

The situations or introductions to the situations where Smyth's 74 offences occurred could be viewed as "classical" in the "grooming tactics" he used for the entrapment of the victims.

He presented himself as "family friend, pastor, friendly uncle, the pied piper who would arrive in a car with a boot full of sweets, akin to a mobile sweetshop. That kindly man became the bogey man", said Judge Kelly.

He imposed sentences of from two to eight years on each of the 74 charges of indecent and sexual assault to which Smyth pleaded guilty and directed that a number of four-year sentences would be consecutive to the eight-year terms.

"Within statutory parameters, I am of the view that the severity of a sentence imposed should be measured in proportion to the seriousness of the offending behaviour. That seriousness can be measured by the harm caused in the commission of the offences," said Judge Kelly.

He refused defence counsel Ms Gemma Loughran's application for leave to appeal severity of sentence but allowed free legal aid to allow the defence to make an application to the Court of Criminal Appeal for leave to appeal.