Republic of Ireland news

Church volunteer jailed for decades of child sexual abuse

A former Church of Ireland volunteer has been jailed for abusing more than a dozen young boys
Staff Reporter

A 77-year-old former Church of Ireland volunteer who continued to abuse children even after a conviction has been sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Dubliner Patrick O'Brien sexually abused 14 boys over several decades, including in St Patrick's Cathedral, using his Church work to gain their parents' trust.

He was jailed yesterday after pleading guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 51 sample charges out of a total of 159 abuse offences dating as far back as the early 1970s.

The boys, aged between seven and 16, were abused at several locations, including at St Patrick's in Dublin while people were praying, in Kildare, Westmeath and on his boat at Loughrea in Galway.

Judge Melanie Greally described O'Brien, of Knocklyon Road in Templeogue, as a predatory serial sex abuser.

Even though he was once caught and convicted in 1989, he continued to abuse and rape children for more than a decade.

He sexually abused boys in the electrical room at St Patrick's, in his car, and in their own homes.

When arrested in March 2014 he admitted the abuse dated from 1974.

All but one of the boys was abused and raped numerous times.

One of his victims told gardaí he was terrified he would end up abusing his own daughter because research suggested abused children go on to abuse as adults.

Another man, now in his forties, said the abuse had meant he missed his chance to marry and have children, while another said it had contributed to the breakdown of his marriage.

Following the sentencing, the Church of Ireland said St Patrick's Cathedral and the wider Church community "have been deeply dismayed at the nature and extent of the offences which have been brought to light in the case involving Patrick O'Brien".

"The Church commends the courage of Patrick O'Brien's victims in coming forward."

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