Tom Humphries released from prison after serving 22 months

Former sports writer received a 2½-year sentence for grooming and sexually abusing girl

Tom Humphries attending his 2017 trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Tom Humphries attending his 2017 trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

 

Convicted child abuser and former Irish Times writer Tom Humphries has been released from prison having served 22 months of a 2½-year sentence.

The former journalist was released from the Midlands Prison on Friday morning, where he had served the majority of his sentence.

He was granted remission of one quarter, meaning he was released seven and a half months early. Humphries was due to be released on Saturday but prisoners due for release at the weekend are often released on Fridays due to staffing issues.

Humphries (56), from Sutton, north Dublin, pleaded guilty to two counts of defilement of a child in Dublin between December 5th, 2010, and February 19th, 2011, and four counts of inviting a child to participate in a sexually explicit, obscene or indecent act between January 2010 and March 2011.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Humphries exchanged at least 16,000 text messages with the girl from when she was 14 years old. These were sent during a three month period up to March 2011 as part of the grooming process before sexually abusing her.

In her sentencing remarks in October 2017, Judge Karen O’Connor said the offences deserved a “headline sentence” of four years in prison. However after taking into account mitigating factors including Humphries’s previous “high profile” and his fall from that position, she reduced this by 18 months.

“It would be difficult not to have sympathy for him. That’s not to excuse his behaviour,” Judge O’Connor said.

“It’s something of a truism to say the higher the profile and success of a member of society the greater the fall.”

The judge’s remarks and the perceived leniency of the two and a half year sentence drew significant criticism at the time.

“It seems to be an inappropriate level of empathy for him, with little empathy for the rights of the victim,” chief executive of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Noeline Blackwell said of Judge O’Connor’s remarks.

Mary Flaherty, chief executive of Children at Risk in Ireland, said it was an “unbelievably lenient” sentence, “given the sustained, predatory nature of the grooming”.

The once prominent sports-writer has not written for The Irish Times since 2011 and was let go from the newspaper in 2017 after pleading guilty to the offences.

His offending first came to light in March 2011 when Humphries’ daughter was collecting old phones for charity. Her father donated his old phone and she turned it on to make sure it still worked.

On the phone she found a large amount of sexually explicit text messages Humphries had sent to someone stored in his phone under a false name.

Humphries spent a lengthy period of time receiving psychiatric treatment before being charged and convicted.

The abuse had a devastating effect on the victim, the court heard in 2017.

In a victim impact report she said she had been suicidal and had lost her childhood and her trust in men because of Humphries.

She suffered from “permanent flashbacks and severe panic attacks” as well as depression which caused her to lose friends. She also missed school and exams because of the “dragging out” of the case.