Wexford man guilty of killing his father


A WEXFORD man was convicted at the Central Criminal Court last night of the manslaughter of his father, whom the court heard had sexually abused him and his two sisters and younger brother for years. He will be sentenced today.

James Hendrick jnr (26) looked relieved when the jury delivered its verdict. His two sisters younger brother and other relatives wept and smiled.

The jury of nine men and three women took 30 minutes to clear Hendrick unanimously of murder. But after legal discussion, during which the jury foreman said it had not considered the issue of manslaughter, the judge asked jurors to go back and consider the issue.

After a further hour's deliberation they found him not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

Mr Justice Geoghegan told the nine men and three women they had taken a "very humane approach" to the case. He said he would deal with sentencing today and remanded Hendrick in custody.

At the outset of his three day trial, Hendrick admitted the manslaughter of his father, James Hendrick snr (58), at their home at Ballinvegga, Ratgarogue, New Ross, Co Wexford, on January 27th last year. The plea was rejected by the State.

Asked why he shot his father he said: "I just took all I could. I couldn't take any more. All my life he was abusing me, my sisters brother, friends.

The trial heard Hendrick was one of four children who had lived with their mother and father at Rathgarogue. Their mother died from tuberculosis when the defendant was aged 10. She had been ill for several years previously.

His two sisters and younger brother told the court they had been sexually abused by their father for several years while they were children. Two other young men also told the court that James Hendrick snr had made sexual advances to them. The State did not contest their evidence.

Hendrick said his father had begun sexually abusing him when he was four and had buggered him from about the age of eight. He said the abuse stopped when he was aged about 14 and big enough to stop his father.

He admitted he had shot his father dead at their home in the early hours of January 27th, 1996. He said he had fired two shots at his father after he had telephoned gardai and told them he was going to shoot his father. He also told them his father had sexually abused him.

He told the court: "He just took too much out of me and I could take no more." Hendrick said he was not sorry he had shot his father.

The jury retired to consider its verdict at 4.50 p.m. and returned with a verdict of not guilty of murder at 5.20 p.m. Hendrick's sisters wept and smiled and their brother Patrick also smiled.

After legal discussion the judge asked the jury whether it intended a complete not guilty verdict or a verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

The jury foreman said they had not discussed the manslaughter issue and the judge sent jurors back to consider it. At 6.55 p.m. the jury returned with a unanimous verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

Earlier yesterday, Dr Damian Mohan, a forensic psychiatrist, outlined to the court the effects of child sexual abuse on the adult survivors of such abuse. He said the effects could be lifelong.

They included depression, self injury, thoughts of self injury, poor control over emotions, difficulties with interpersonal relationships and with trust, and educational difficulties.

He said between 20 and 40 per cent of adult survivors of child sexual abuse suffered from psychological impairment. The nature of the effects depended on the severity and regularity of the abuse.