Derry Crown Court
A Donegal pensioner who admitted indecently assaulting three girls over 40 years ago has been jailed at Derry Crown Court.
John Callaghan,of Drung, Quigley’s Point, Co. Donegal, pleaded guilty to 14 charges of indecent assault.
The offences were committed between January 1972 and January 1982 and involved three victims.
Derry Crown Court heard that the first victim was eight-years-old when the abuse began.
Callaghan sat her on his knee, put his arms around her and rubbed her chest.
The second victim was 11 when she was abused by the defendant in a similar way.
Callaghan indecently assaulted the third girl when she was six-years-old.
He pushed against her, rubbed himself against her and touched her underneath her underwear.
The 71-year-old abused each girl on more than one occasion.
The abuse took place in the homes of family members and friends.
The victims initially disclosed the abuse to a social worker and made formal statements to police in the summer of 2014.
Callaghan was interviewed by police in March 2015 and denied the allegations.
He claimed he did not have much interaction with the girls and "never interfered with anyone".
Following his guilty pleas, the pensioner told a psychologist he "did not think he was doing any harm" to the victims.
A defence barrister told the court this was his client’s view at the time of the offences.
He said Callaghan now realises what he did was wrong.
The barrister also said the 71-year-old does not remember much about the abuse because it happened so long ago.
Passing sentence, Judge Philip Babington said the offences were aggravated by the age of the victims and the length of time over which the offending took place.
The judge said the effect on the victims was a further aggravating factor of the abuse.
He said victim impact reports indicated "the defendant’s behaviour had a destructive effect" on the girls’ family.
The judge said such offending "had to be met with a custodial sentence".
He said Callaghan’s offences were "selfish, only for your own benefit".
Callaghan was sentenced to a total of 30 months. The judge ordered him to spend 18 months in custody and the remaining 12 months on probation.
He was also ordered to sign the sex offenders register for a period of ten years.