Ex-Church of Ireland volunteer jailed for sex assaults on boys

Patrick O’Brien jailed for 13 years for raping and molesting 14 boys over four decades

Patrick O’Brien  of Knocklyon Road, Templeogue in Dublin. Judge Melanie Greally said his  actions had a severely damaging impact on his victims

Patrick O’Brien of Knocklyon Road, Templeogue in Dublin. Judge Melanie Greally said his actions had a severely damaging impact on his victims

 

A former lay worker with the Church of Ireland has been jailed for 13 years for raping and molesting 14 boys over 40 years.

Patrick O’Brien (76) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 48 sample counts of indecent assault and three counts of sexual assault between 1974 and 2013. The abuse occurred at many locations throughout the State, including on a boat at Loughrea, Co Galway, and at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, where he worked as a volunteer.

He has one previous conviction for sexually assaulting another boy in 1989, for which he got a one-year suspended sentence.

A judge previously ruled that O’Brien, of Knocklyon Road, Templeogue, Dublin, could be identified following an application by RTÉ at the District Court. All of the victims wish to preserve their anonymity.

Judge Melanie Greally said O’Brien’s actions had a severely damaging impact on his victims. She noted he had no support in court, and said for all intents and purposes he was alone in the world.

One man described in his victim impact report how his biggest fear over the years was that he might end up abusing his daughter. He had read many cases about abused children becoming abusers themselves and “it frightened the crap out of me”.

Violent secret

Det Garda Anthony Maloney told Anne Rowland, prosecuting, that various victims told gardaí they had made efforts to avoid O’Brien as children.

One victim cycled to his local Garda station to report O’Brien a day after he tried to rape him. When he arrived at the station he got “cold feet”, was worried about the consequences and decided to put the abuse to the back of his mind.

O’Brien continued to abuse the boy in the months afterwards until the boy threatened to report or kill him if he touched him again.

Some victim said they felt they were being threatened by O’Brien, while others described him as being like an uncle to them and was a trusted family friend.

The men also told gardaí that O’Brien gave them gifts such as sweets, toys and cash.

Det Garda Maloney said all the men were badly affected by the abuse. Two victims told gardaí they were very worried when they learned about Aids on the news as children and were terrified they were going to die.

Voluntary statement

Seán Guerin SC, defending, told Judge Greally his client had written a letter in which he wanted to apologise “unreservedly” for the breach of trust and the suffering the victims and their families endured. He acknowledged his “deep heartfelt regret and shame”.

Counsel said O’Brien had completed 312 hours of group psychotherapy treatment since April 2014, which he said was a practical indication of remorse and efforts at rehabilitation even at this stage of his life.

Mr Guerin said his client’s plea of guilty and admissions were of substantial value in the case, having regard to the victims, many of whom indicated “a fear of being disbelieved”.