Northern Ireland news

Former scout leader (72) jailed for historical sexual abuse of two girls

James Desmond McNamee was jailed for six years

A 72-year-old man has been jailed for six years for historical sexual offences against two girls who were separately targeted from around the age of seven.

James Desmond McNamee, of Bunneil, Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh, committed the first offences between 1976 and 1978 when one victim was indecently assaulted on four occasions.

He also accepted 11 counts of indecent assault against the second girl from 1987 until 1990, and several of gross indecency from 1989 and 1993.

Dungannon Crown Court heard that abuse of the first child began with inappropriate touching but led on to more sinister acts.

She recalled one incident when she stayed at McNamee's home around the time she made her First Holy Communion.

The second victim suffered abuse whilst he was her scout leader in Donagh, Co Fermanagh.

She described “a ritual” developing when McNamee would drive her and some other scouts to a shop on Saturdays.

He would buy them sweets, then sometimes drive to Water Service premises in Lisnaskea, which he could access at any time as an employee.

Whilst the others played, McNamee took the victim into a building where offences took place.

A defence lawyer told the court his client accepted the charges, which had spared the victims the distress of a trial.

It was pointed out as well as a long employment history, he umpired football matches and carried out in charitable work for children in Chernobyl.

Judge Stephen Fowler said: "This offending was a profound violation of two young children, at a vulnerable age. I consider the impact on them as significant.

"This was an invasive series of sexual offences over a prolonged period of time."

He sentenced McNamee to eight years imprisonment, with the final two to be spent on supervised licence.

  • Anyone who has been affected by abuse or is worried about a child can contact the NSPCC’s helpline 24/7 on 0808 800 5000, text 88858 or at
  • The NSPCC Childline service is also available to children 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0800 1111 or by visiting

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