Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court

  • A 76 year-old man who sexually molested seven girls aged between 7 and 12 over a seven year period was sentenced to a total of three years in prison at Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court today .

    Patrick Reilly, Shanaghy, Belmullet, Co. Mayo, was described by one of his victims, in victim impact statements read to the court, as “an evil monster who destroyed my childhood”.

    Judge Sean O’Donnabhain lifted reporting restrictions to allow for the publication in the media of the name of the accused.

    However, he barred publication of the victims’ names or any details of the court case which might lead to the identification of any of the victims.

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    A 60 year-old man who systematically sexually abused two of his young daughters - as well as another minor - over a prolonged period - was jailed for eight years today.


    The daughters waived their rights to anonymity in the case so that their abuser, John Murphy, formerly of Nephin View Manor, Foxford, Co. Mayo, could be named.


    Both Stephanie Prendergast and her sister, Michaela Murphy, told Judge Rory MacCabe in victim impact statements read to the Circuit Criminal Court in Castlebar, they were going public in order to show other victims of sex abuse they are not alone and to encourage them to come forward.


    The accused, a former member of the Irish Defence Forces is currently serving a prison sentence at Arbour Hill for a previous sexual assault on a female.


    He is originallly from Bonniconlon, Ballina.


    Last month he pleaded guilty to 20 counts of sexually assaulting his three victims at addresses in Foxford and in Galway City between 1992 and 2013.


    Garda Thomasina McHale told today's sentencing hearing that Stephanie Prendergast's first memory of being abused by her father was at the age of four when the family lived in Rahoon, Galway.


    Garda McHale said that Stephanie disclosed that she was sexually assaulted by her father between the ages of 4 and 12, between 1992 and 2000, at four different locations. 


    The garda said that Michaela Murphy was also subjected to sexual assaults over a lengthy period as was another girl, the third complainant in the case, who does not wish to be identified. 


    In her victim impact statement read to today's hearing, Stephanie Prendergast said that sex assaults on her by her father during her childhood were so frequent that it seemed to her such acts must be normal, that it happened in every child's home. 


    Stephanie's sister, Michaela, told the court she was going public because she did not anyone else to endure what she and her sister had gone through. 


    Before imposing prison sentences totalling eight years, Judge MacCabe said the gravity of the offences were aggravated by a number of factors including the ages of the victims, their relationship to the accused,and their vulnerability and innocence.


    The judge commented that the impact on the families involved had been 'cataclysmic'.
    It was difficult, Judge MacCabe continued, to see how the victims could not be left without indelible scars as a result of their childhoods being damaged in so many ways. 


    Finally, the judge asked, how was the abuse allowed continue,?

    Surely, he remarked, people had to have noticed.
     Perhaps, Judge MacCabe added, many people ought to examine their consciences in this regard.
    The accused, the judge continued,, is a paedophile, a serial sex abuser, and there is nothing to suggest that he doesn't remain a danger to the public regardless of his age or medical condition.


    Today's court was told by defence counsel Diarmuid Connolly that Murphy will be appearing before the Central Criminal Cout later this year on a separate charge to which he will be pleading guillty.