Silverbridge man jailed for sexual abuse of nephew

August 4, 2014

By Christine Keighery

A Silverbridge man branded a “sexual predator” began a five year jail term this weekend for the repeated and persistent abuse of his nephew over a four year period in the 1980s.

77 year old Thomas Francis Donaghy, of O’Callaghan Road, Silverbridge, was found guilty in June this year by a unanimous verdict on eight counts of gross indecency and eight counts of indecent assault on his nephew, Micheal Donaghy.

The offences began when the victim was aged 10, continuing until he was 14 and took place at his grandparents’ farmhouse in Silverbridge where his uncle also lived.  The young boy had to sleep in his uncle’s double bed as there were no other bedrooms available.

Outlining the case, the judge said that the defendant had “deliberately set about grooming and sexually abusing Micheal for his own sexual purpose” from an early age which 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.”

During the sentencing hearing on Friday, the court heard that when Micheal Donaghy decided to tell his parents and his brother and sister about the abuse, “they didn’t believe him and he was left feeling angry”.

Prosecution lawyer Geraldine McCullough told Newry Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, that Micheal had been shunned by his father, mother, brother and sister since he first told them about the abuse. His uncle was later arrested by the PSNI and during interview, denied sexually abusing his nephew.

“The defendant still denies these offences and has shown no remorse” said the prosecution lawyer.

Thomas Donaghy’s Defence barrister John Kearney QC said Thomas Donaghy had  “lost everything that was important to him.”

“He has lost his good name and his reputation,” he said adding that it was “accepted this was a breach of trust in the sleeping arrangements.”

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 him to be subject to a Sexual Offenders Prevention Order for five years.

Speaking after the sentencing, Micheal Donaghy said he was “relieved” that his uncle had finally been jailed for the sexual abuse he had subjected him to “over a long period of time” and said he hoped his story will encourage other victims to come forward.

“There are no winners in all of this,” saId the 42-year-old father of two.

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.

“I want to thank prosecution counsel Geraldine McCullough, the Public Prosecution Service, the PSNI, Nexus and Victim Support for all the support they gave me throughout this case.

“I also want to thank my close neighbours and friends for standing by me, for believing in me and for all their support and help.”