School caretaker who abused boys sentenced to 18 years in prison

Michelle Nic Phaidin

Reporter:

Michelle Nic Phaidin

A 56-year-old man who remained in a job as a caretaker in a Donegal Irish language summer school after he was convicted of sexual assault was been sentenced to 18 years on additional sexual assault of four boys at the central criminal court yesterday.

A 56-year-old man who remained in a job as a caretaker in a Donegal Irish language summer school after he was convicted of sexual assault was been sentenced to 18 years on additional sexual assault of four boys at the central criminal court yesterday.

Michael Ferry, with an address at Carrickboyle, Gweedore, Co Donegal, pleaded guilty to 38 sample charges of sexual assault against four young boys at the Central Criminal Court last week (Monday 11 July).

The offences took place between 1991 and 2003.

Sentencing Ferry, Justice Paul Carney added him to the sex offenders register for the second time, imposing an 18 year custodial sentence with last four years suspended, and ordering that he be placed under supervision for ten years after his release.

Ferry was also ordered to stay away from his victims “in perpetuity.”

Judge Carney said: “A disturbing feature of this case was that the accused remained as caretaker of the school while the offences pre-date and postdate a conviction of sexual assault in the same school in respect of which he was placed on the register for five years.

“This must have been known to local gardai and presumably to the school authorities.”

His position of trust in the community allowed Ferry to continue grooming further victims, Judge Carney said.

Ferry was convicted on 13 December 2002 and sentenced to a six month suspended sentence and a €500 fine, but he was not named at the time.

His victim at the time said they did not want Ferry named because of the effect it could have on his ailing mother.

Passing sentence, Justice Paul Carney said that the range of penalty ranged from a suspended sentence to life. He said that there were a number of reasons for his sentence and they were, the gravity of the offences, the disparity in range of the victims, their vulnerability in their teenage years, the position of trust that Michael Ferry held, the systematic grooming, the premeditation of offences, multiplicity of victims and offences that all continued after the was placed on the register of sexual offenders and the effect that the abuse had on the victims.

He said that Ferry had fast-tracked the judicial victim process for the victims and had shown genuine remorse.

Justice Carney added that Ferry was to be supervised ten years following release and entered into a bond of one thousand euro to stay away from victims. Ferry was warned that should he breach the conditions on his release, further imprisonment will follow.

Leave to appeal was refused and Justice Carney did not impose a publication order stating “look what happened on the last occasion”.

He added that he was not offering anyone “legal advice” but saw no reason for such a ban to be imposed.

IN TOMORROW’S DONEGAL DEMOCRAT/PEOPLE’S PRESS - One of the victims waives his right to anonymity to encourage others to come forward and to protect children in future.