Former brother admits abusing boy 20 or 30 times

 

A former Marist Brother admitted abusing an eight-year-old boy "maybe 20 or 30" times over a four-month period, a court was told yesterday.

Martin Meaney (65), of Moyle Park, Clondalkin, Dublin, pleaded guilty to five sample charges of indecent assault on Paul Gordon, a native of Jinks Avenue, Sligo,whom he taught at St John's national school, Temple Street, Sligo, more than 35 years ago.

Meaney apologised "unreservedly" to his victim. The accused, who was also known as Brother Gregory, told gardaí that he picked on children who were not getting love at home.

Meaney said he chose the "unloved and uncared for ones", describing Paul Gordon as "a weak little lad" who was pale and sickly and who liked him.

Meaney who will be sentenced by Judge Anthony Kennedy at next week's sittings of Sligo Circuit Court is the third former Marist Brother at the Sligo school, and the fifth former teacher, to face indecent assault charges.

Judge Kennedy was told yesterday that Mr Gordon wished to waive his anonymity having been ostracised for killing his father in 1983. Mr Gordon, who served an eight-year sentence for the manslaughter of his father, told gardaí that his father had accepted payments from a different Marist Brother in return for turning a blind eye to abuse.

This particular brother has never been prosecuted for offences committed against Mr Gordon but has faced other charges.

In his victim impact statement, Mr Gordon - who will be 44 at the end of this month - said it was only after serving the sentence for manslaughter that he was able to talk to gardaí about what "Brother Gregory" had done to him.

Meaney, who has left the Marist order, received an 18-year jail sentence in November 1992 in a separate case where he admitted eight sample charges of buggery, rape and indecent assault out of a total of 109 charges committed when he was a teacher in Castlerea, Co Roscommon. The sentence was reduced to 12 years on appeal.

In his victim impact statement, Mr Gordon said he had started drinking alcohol at the age of nine and was taking drugs at 11. "My life was a total mess. I drank my way through life up until two years ago."

He said to this day he cannot go to a beach nor can he wear a T-shirt because he cannot stand having bare arms in public.

One of a family of 10, he said his father had been an alcoholic who beat him for no reason.

He believed Meaney took advantage of him because he knew of his home situation and that he had no one he could turn to or tell.

Meaney took to the witness box yesterday and, looking directly at Mr Gordon, said he wished to apologise unreservedly for the damage and hurt he had caused him.

The sample charges to which he pleaded guilty dated from March-June 1972.

Mr Brendan Grehan SC, for Meaney, said his client admitted these allegations in 1999 but was not charged until he was about to leave prison in 2001.

He said Meaney had served a lengthy prison sentence and had subsequently spent 16 months in two residential centres receiving treatment. He urged that, given his age and poor health and the lapse of time, the court consider a non-custodial sentence.

Meaney was remanded on continuing bail until next week.