Northern Ireland

Thomas Francis Donaghy jailed for 'persistent' sex abuse

A County Armagh man has been jailed for five years for the "repeated and persistent'' sexual abuse of a nephew.

Thomas Francis Donaghy, 77, of O'Callaghan Road, Silverbridge, was found guilty of eight counts of gross indecency and eight counts of indecent assault on Micheal Donaghy.

The offences spanned a four-year period in the 1980s.

A prosecution lawyer said Donaghy had shown no remorse.

She said other aggravating features in the case were that the sexual abuse took place at night when the Donaghy family was in bed, and the breach of trust by an uncle.

Donaghy's defence barrister said: "He hails from a country area. He has lost everything that was important to him.

"He has lost his good name and his reputation. He wants to move back to the area where he lives upon his release from prison.

"It is accepted that this was a breach of trust in the sleeping arrangements.''

'Substantial harm'

Outlining the facts of the case, the judge said Micheal Donaghy would stay at his grandparents' farmhouse in Silverbridge where his uncle also lived.

The judge said the victim had to sleep in his uncle's double bed as there were no other bedrooms available.

The judge said Donaghy was a "sexual predator and that he "had deliberately set about grooming and sexually abusing Micheal for his own sexual purpose'' from an early age.

He said this had caused the victim a "significant degree of harm which, in my view, was substantial''.

The judge added: "This was sexual abuse carried out against a child who was vulnerable because of his age and who was in the formative years of his life.

"This abuse happened in his grandparents' home where he should have felt safe and where he should have been safe. The abuse was a serious breach of trust. The defendant was in a position of trust and told his victim that it would be their secret.

"The defendant has expressed no remorse and has given no insight into his conduct.''

The judge said that the starting point for sentence was four years but added that "this case merits an uplifting'' because of the aggravating features.

"This case involved significant planning and that's evident by the fact that the defendant kept this quiet from his parents when he was abusing the victim in a small farmhouse.

"The duration of this offending which took place over four years from 1981-1985. There was a significant age differential: he was in his mid-40s and his victim was a child of ten when the offending began.''

Donaghy was jailed for five years concurrent on each of the eight counts of indecent assault. He received concurrent two-year prison terms for the eight counts of gross indecency.

The judge also banned him from working with children and ordered Donaghy to be subject to a Sexual Offenders Prevention Order for five years.

Speaking outside the court, Micheal Donaghy, 44, who waived his right to anonymity, said he was "relieved''.

"There are no winners in all of this,'' he saId. "It is just a relief that it is finally all over."

He added: "I hope other victims out there in a similar position to me will now come forward and speak out because there is help available."