Child rapist claims prison governor’s ruling breached his human rights

Brian Doolan ‘used jail telephone’ to instruct his son to taunt the nephew he abused

Brian Doolan: the child rapist was banned from receiving phone calls or having visitors for 30 days

Brian Doolan, who is now in his 70s, was a prolific legal author and academic during the decades before he was uncovered as a sex offender. He was convicted in 2016 of raping and sexually abusing his nephew Stephen Kershaw. After pleading not guilty to 44 charges of sexual abuse, including 11 of rape, he was convicted of 42 of the charges and sentenced to 12 years in prison, with two years suspended.

Doolan had access to children through his time as a scout leader and football referee. Those activities predated Garda vetting; nothing was known about Doolan’s offending until a complaint was made to the Garda, almost 10 years ago, relating to historical abuse.

His best-known work is Principles of Irish Law, one of seven legal texts he has written. The book was first published in 1981; Doolan wrote an update for its eighth edition, in 2011, to include an analysis of new children's-rights legislation, at a time when he knew he was under investigation by the Garda Síochána for allegedly raping a number of children.

Disciplinary finding

The High Court action he is now taking against the Irish Prison Service would be likely to have significant implications were it to succeed. Doolan, who is also a former senior law lecturer at Dublin Institute of Technology, is challenging a finding of misconduct by the governor of Arbour Hill Prison after a disciplinary hearing on September 26th, 2017.


The governor found Doolan had breached prison rules by using a telephone at the jail to instruct his son to post comments and content on the website The comments criticised Mr Kershaw, who gave evidence in Doolan's criminal trial, and One in Four, the victim-support group. The governor banned Doolan from receiving phone calls or having visitors for 30 days.

Doolan claims the disciplinary process breached his human rights, by allowing him to appeal only the sanction and not the verdict. If the court rules in his favour, the system across the prison service would need to be changed to incorporate full appeals.

Doolan has made legal history in the past. After becoming possibly the first single man in Ireland to adopt a child from abroad, he challenged to lack of parental leave for single adoptive fathers.

In 1984, years before he legally adopted a boy in the 1990s, he registered the birth of a nonexistent child. Garda sources said it appeared he regretted using his own name as the father while registering the fake birth and did not proceed with his plans. Doolan used the name of a woman he had once known as the baby’s mother. The Garda discovered the registration during its investigation of his child sex abuse.