Sex abuse victim tells how community shunned him when he reported abuse

Man says he wants abuser named so people will know he told the truth when he was five

Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

A 38-year-old man, who was shunned by neighbours when he reported being sexually abused as a five-year-old by an older boy, has seen his abuser jailed for 12 months after he pleaded guilty to eight counts of sexual assault.

The complainant said he wanted his abuser, John Murphy (45) of Silversprings Court in Tivoli, Cork named so people would realise he was not telling lies some 33 years ago when he told his parents how Murphy had abused him.

“Neighbours heard about the assault but accused me of lying. People gossiped about me and my family which was contributed to by the perpetrator’s parents. I was always known as the boy who told vicious lies and shunned from the local community.

"I had no friends growing up and felt like an outsider. I was extremely lonely. I found it difficult to believe I could trust anyone," said the man in a victim impact statement to Cork Circuit Criminal Court in which he alleged gardaí had not properly investigated his parents' complaints in the 1980s.


Det Garda Mark Durcan told the court that Murphy used to get the injured party to participate in a game of what he called "torture" on multiple occasions in 1987 and 1988 when the injured party was aged five and six and Murphy was aged 12 and 13.

The abuse involved Murphy putting the little boy across his lap, pulling down his pants and masturbating him and it later evolved to performing oral sex and he would later give the boy a toy and get him to promise not to tell anyone.

The case came to light in August 2018 when the complainant made a statement to gardaí in Mayfield in Cork and Murphy came in voluntarily to meet gardaí a month later when he made full admissions in relation to the abuse.

Defence barrister, Emmet Boyle BL said his client had co-operated fully with the gardaí and had pleaded guilty at an early stage and he also pointed out his client was aged just 13 at the time of the abuse and he had since undertaken the Safer Lives programme to help him deal with his issues.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said that although Murphy was a minor at the time, the abuse he had subjected his victim to over a sustained period was a significant and serious matter when the victim was an innocent and vulnerable child.

“Aggravating factors include the nature of the abuse . . . and the repeat nature of the offences,” he said, adding it was clear from the injured party’s victim impact statement that the abuse left a huge legacy.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said mitigating factors included the guilty plea which was a public acknowledgment by the guilty party that everything said by the injured party was correct and a public vindication of the injured party.

“One would want to have a heart of stone not to feel and hear the hurt of the victim – it is palpable, it is genuine – this victim impact statement was not written by rote – every phrase is from the man’s heart, a lived experience – and it is bursting with hurt,” he said.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said there had been consequences for the accused, Murphy, a mechanic, who had lost his job and his family, and he imposed a two-year sentence with 12 months suspended to run consecutive to a lengthy jail term he is currently serving for a separate and unrelated matter.

The complainant paid tribute to Mary Crilly of the Cork Sexual Violence Centre for the support she had given him and thanked Det Garda Durcan for the professionalism he had shown and the support he had given him and his family during the investigation.

“The scars I have are not visible to people – however they are no less real for that, and if they were visible, I would I look like someone who has been beaten to a pulp and left for dead on the side of the road,” he said in his victim impact statement.

“It has taken me a long time to openly admit that I am a victim of the sexual assaults committed against me 33 years ago as a five-year-old child. I am, but I am not only a victim, I am [a] survivor and will continue to be. My abuser will be what he is until his dying day – a vile predatory paedophile.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times