Man who abused girl 50 years ago has sen­tence cut

82-YEAR-OLD SEES 15 MONTHS OF TWO-YEAR TERM SUS­PENDED

Bray People - - NEWS -

AN 82-YEAR-OLD man jailed for in­de­cently as­sault­ing an eight-year-old girl 50 years ago has had his jail term cut on ap­peal.

Jack Dono­hue (82), of Hold­en­stown, Balt­in­glass, Co Wick­low, had pleaded guilty to two counts of in­de­cently as­sault­ing an eight-year-old girl in the county on dates be­tween Septem­ber 1, 1968 and Septem­ber 11, 1969.

He was sen­tenced at Wick­low Cir­cuit Crim­i­nal Court to two years’ im­pris­on­ment with the fi­nal six months sus­pended by Judge Michael O’Shea on April 7, 2017.

Dono­hue suc­cess­fully ap­pealed his sen­tence on Mon­day, with the Court of Ap­peal hold­ing that a greater por­tion of his two-year term ought to have been sus­pended given the 82-year-old’s poor health and frailty.

Giv­ing judg­ment, Mr Jus­tice Ge­orge Birm­ing­ham said the vic­tim came into con­tact with Dono­hue through his work and he was also known to her fam­ily.

When the vic­tim was aged eight, Dono­hue be­gan in­de­cently as­sault­ing her. The abuse took the form of dig­i­tal pen­e­tra­tion and on other oc­ca­sions, he would take her hand, place it in the pocket of his pants where there was a hole, and onto his pe­nis.

The of­fend­ing took place when the vic­tim was aged eight and Dono­hue would have been in his early thir­ties.

The abuse has had a very se­ri­ous and life­long im­pact on the vic­tim, the judge said.

Dono­hue had no pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions and was oth­er­wise of good char­ac­ter. He lived a quiet, iso­lated life and never mar­ried.

Mr Jus­tice Birm­ing­ham said a med­i­cal re­port from his GP in­di­cated that he did not en­joy good health. He has chronic ob­struc­tive air­ways dis­ease, ir­reg­u­lar heart­beat, en­larged prostate, a her­nia, anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion.

Coun­sel for Dono­hue, Philip Shea­han SC, sub­mit­ted that his client’s sen­tence was in­ap­pro­pri­ately long, that it did not re­flect the fact that the of­fend­ing oc­curred 50 years ago and, fur­ther­more, that for an 82-year-old an 18-month jail term was a ‘very long sen­tence’. The max­i­mum sen­tence for in­de­cent as­sault at the time was two years, the court heard.

Mr Jus­tice Birm­ing­ham said the Court of Ap­peal was in no doubt about the se­ri­ous­ness of the of­fend­ing and that the im­pact on the vic­tim had been ‘re­ally, very, very se­ri­ous in­deed’.

He said there had to be cus­tody and the court did not dis­agree with the se­lec­tion of two years as the head­line sen­tence.

In so far as the judge was re­quired to sen­tence an 82-yearold in poor health, the bal­ance be­tween the por­tion to be ac­tu­ally served and sus­pended was ‘in­ap­pro­pri­ate’.

Given Dono­hue’s poor health and frailty, Mr Jus­tice Birm­ing­ham, who sat with Mr Jus­tice Alan Ma­hon and Mr Jus­tice John Hedi­gan, said a greater por­tion fo the sen­tence should have been sus­pended.

The court re­sen­tenced him to two years’ im­pris­on­ment with the fi­nal 15 months sus­pended.

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