Fermanagh ‘paedophile ring’: PSNI pledges to investigate every allegation

Child protection branch boss says a historical abuse inquiry in the county is a ‘priority’

The hearse leaving the scene at Killygreen, Belcoo, Co Fermanagh, following the discovery of the remains of sex abuser David Sullivan in 2001. Photograph: John McVitty/Impartial Reporter

The hearse leaving the scene at Killygreen, Belcoo, Co Fermanagh, following the discovery of the remains of sex abuser David Sullivan in 2001. Photograph: John McVitty/Impartial Reporter

 

Every single allegation about child abuse in Co Fermanagh during the 1980s will be investigated, the head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s child protection branch has vowed.

Det Chief Supt Paula Hilman has pledged to review cases relating to a suspected paedophile ring in Enniskillen after several victims came forward to tell their stories in recent weeks.

The abuse was carried out by bus driver David Sullivan, who was found murdered in 1998, while allegations have been made against a series of other men, most of whom are still alive.

Each of the cases that were reported to police during that time were later dropped after the Public Prosecution Service decided there was “insufficient evidence” to justify a prosecution.

Now Det Chief Supt Hilman has said she will review new information and speak to new witnesses, which could provide police with enough evidence to seek prosecutions.

“Our team covering Fermanagh will look at this, but I, along with my deputy, will personally look at the resources that I need to put to this to revisit and carry out investigations,” she said.

Newspaper campaign

The PSNI pledge follows a long-running campaign by Fermanagh local newspaper the Impartial Reporter focusing on historical child sex abuse in the county.

Speaking to the Enniskillen-based newspaper, Det Supt Hilman said: “This has become a priority for us, for me, and for the PSNI. We are listening and we will investigate these cases.”

A specialist team of detectives will now examine the existing investigation filed and any new information that has been recently received, and will speak to new witnesses in a bid to seek prosecutions.

“There have been some cases reported very recently where convictions have happened for historical child sexual abuse where detectives in public protection branch revisited and we had somebody prosecuted very quickly.

“We did get a prosecution from looking back at what we knew and new information coming to light. We will do the same again; we will sit with each victim,” she said.

Sullivan’s abuse

David Sullivan abused schoolboys on his bus up until his murder in 1998. One of his victims came forward last week to reveal how the bus driver had abused him 12 times.

The police have yet to properly outline what the organisation knew about the sexual predator and why he was never prosecuted for the litany of abuse he carried out in Co Fermanagh.

“I am limited at what I can say about the investigation into David Sullivan,” Det Supt Hilman said. “If victims are willing to come forward, we will listen to what they say and revisit that.”

“I can understand victims who have come forward if they feel let down or disappointed, but again we need to look at the evidence, [at] what was the nature of the investigation.

“Of course we will take action. We will look at that in the context of timelines to see who knew what and where and when. That will form part of an investigation to review and revisit these cases. We will do that,” she said.