Northern Ireland

John McDermott jailed for Donagh abuse 'tidal wave'

John McDermott
Last month, McDermott pleaded guilty to indecent assault and gross indecency against an eighth victim

A Fermanagh man who, together with his brothers, unleashed a "tidal wave of sexual assaults" has been jailed for a fourth time in as many years.

John McDermott, 63, from Moorlough Road in Donagh, is already serving over nine years, for the abuse of seven children over a 35-year period.

The judge said he was a "predatory sex offender" who targeted children.

Last month, McDermott pleaded guilty to indecent assault and gross indecency of an eighth victim.

He was given a sentence of three months on each count, they will run concurrently to each other, but consecutive to his existing sentence.

As a result, McDermott will serve an extra three months in jail.

He had been due for release in May 2014.

The latest offences took place in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the victim was 12.

He was assaulted by McDermott on two occasions; first at a local GAA pitch, then at a remote spot where the boy had gone fishing in the summer holidays.

The victim only went to the police last year. He told them he had not reported the assaults earlier as he did not want people to think he was "queer".

McDermott sat with his arms folded as the disturbing details of the assaults were read out. Occasionally, he bit his nails, but beyond that he showed no response.

Three other McDermott brothers were originally charged, but John McDermott is the only one to have stood trial.

James and Owen McDermott were deemed unfit to stand trial, while Peter Paul McDermott hanged himself at the start of his trial.

The victim at the centre of Thursday's case chose not to attend, but outside court another of McDermott's victims, Michael Connolly, said he felt let down by the length of sentence and that it sent the wrong message to other potential victims who might be thinking of coming forward.

The judge, however, said that what needed to be acknowledged was that "in seeking to find the appropriate level of sentence, a court must consider the totality of sentence and is entitled, and indeed obliged, to consider what that sentence might properly have been had all matters come to the court at one time rather than over a period of years".

He noted that this would mean, on occasion, that the sentence for one set of offences, if viewed in isolation, may appear more lenient that it might appear to have merited.

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