Teacher spared criminal record for indecent assault on boy (8)

Judge Anthony Halpin, in reaching decision, refers to the victim’s ‘unacceptable conduct’

Judge Anthony Halpin: “The victim is obliged to go to the gardaí about the incident. This victim did not – in fact it is some 10 to 12 years later that the victim has made a complaint.” Photograph: The Irish Times

Judge Anthony Halpin: “The victim is obliged to go to the gardaí about the incident. This victim did not – in fact it is some 10 to 12 years later that the victim has made a complaint.” Photograph: The Irish Times

 

A former teacher has been spared a criminal record for indecently assaulting an eight-year-old boy in the 1960s.

The Director of Public Prosecutions had directed the case should only proceed in the District Court if there was a guilty plea. Otherwise, the accused would have to go before a jury trial in the Circuit Court which has tougher sentencing powers.

The defendant, who is in his mid-70s, pleaded guilty to a single count of indecent assault of the boy at a location in north Dublin.

In Dublin District Court, Judge Anthony Halpin said he noted the accused was remorseful and his guilty plea meant a jury trial was unnecessary.

In considering the penalty, he had to take into account that the accused had no previous conviction. He said his order was “facts proved, strike out”.

Finalising the case, Judge Halpin said: “The actual offence occurred in 1963, over 50 years ago. There has been a considerable passage of time and such a passage of time as to affect the carriage of a case before the court, as well as the memories and recollections of those involved in the case.”

Accordingly, he said, “a plea of guilty removed significant difficulties and problems which the prosecution might have encountered as well as no doubt obviating the necessity for a jury trial and the costs involved.

“The victim in this case received and accepted compensation from the accused some 10 or 12 years ago and now, some 50 years on, and having accepted compensation from the accused, he initiated a complaint of sexual assault against the accused.

“This is unacceptable conduct on the part of the victim. Where an offence occurs and the victim comes to a decision to deal with that offence, the criminal remedy takes precedence over the civil settlement of the case.”

He said the crime is “against society as a whole rather than the individual victim”.

He added: “The victim is obliged to go to the gardaí about the incident. This victim did not – in fact it is some 10 to 12 years later that the victim has made a complaint.”

Victim support

He said victims in Ireland got huge support under the guise of the Criminal Justice Act 1993 as amended by the Criminal Procedures Act 2010, permitting them to furnish victim impact statements to the court.

Judge Halpin said the courts recognised victims had rights, but “with rights come duties, the first and primary duty of the victim is that of reporting an offence”.

Equally, the judge said, by virtue of section 38.1 of the Constitution and article 6 of the charter on human rights, the accused “is entitled to trial in due process of law”.

Judge Halpin said he noted the accused’s remorse and that he had pleaded guilty. He said “the aggravating factors of the case in the main are astoundingly against the victim”.

He said there were three reasons for this: “Not reporting the case in a timely fashion; accepting compensation obviated the obligation to report; and allowing over a decade to elapse before reporting the matter.”

He stated: “I must now consider the penalty. I must take into account all said on the part of the accused – no previous convictions, he has been living under the threat of being reported for his crime and that threat is crystallised in the form of these proceedings.”

He said defence solicitor Dara Robinson had informed the court of his client’s “fulsome remorse”.

“In my mind it is sincere and genuine, this has influenced me greatly. I do not know or can’t speculate why the victim took the course of action which he did, that has also influence on my decision,” said Judge Halpin.