Suspended jail term for self-confessed child abuser

February 12, 2018

A man who admitted indecently assaulting a five-year-old boy more than 30 years ago has escaped jail after being handed a suspended sentence when he appeared before Newry Crown Court on Friday.

Vincent O’Grady (49) formally of Camlough and now living in Rosscarbery, Co. Cork, was convicted of three separate counts of indecent assault against the child on dates unknown between October 1985 and August 1990.  O’Grady, who was aged 17 at the time, pleaded guilty to the offences at the end of a second trial, which lasted two weeks and concluded in early December.

An initial trial, which commenced in January last year, ended with the jury unable to reach a verdict and the accused was subsequently re-arraigned to face a retrial. 

During Friday’s sentencing hearing, Judge Melody McReynolds recounted distressing details of the incidents as the now 37-year-old victim, surrounded by family and friends, looked on from the public gallery, where O’Grady’s wife Maureen was also sat.

During the summing up, the prosecution asked that a number of aggravating factors be taken into account when passing sentence, while O’Grady’s defence team appealed for the judge to “choose rehabilitation over retribution”.  Assessing harm and risk, Judge Reynolds said she was very fully advised of the impact of the offences in the victim impact statement she held, and from evidence given in the first trial.  She told the court that she took both aggravating and mitigating factors into account, along with research into similar cases, when she sentenced O’Grady to nine months jail, suspended for three years, on each of the three counts.  The terms are to run concurrently.  She also declared there is no requirement that he be added to the Sex Offenders’ Register, but warned he may still appear on Children’s and/or Adults’ Barred Lists.

This prompted audible gasps from the packed public gallery, and emotional scenes as relatives of the victim reacted angrily to the leniency of the sentence.  As O’Grady was led from the dock, cries of ‘shame on you” were heard across the courtroom.

Outside the courthouse, distressed relatives voiced their fury, claiming justice had not been served and that he had been let off “scot free”, while his victim has received a life sentence.

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