Man escapes jail for sexually abusing child

Judge's court wig and hammer or gavel
Judge's court wig and hammer or gavel

The brother of a priest who sexually abused an altarboy whilst volunteering at the Clonard Novina was spared a jail sentence after appearing in court yesterday.

Martin Cassidy - who Belfast Crown Court heard is currently taking medication at his own request which has the effect of chemical castration - was placed on probation for three years after he admitted abusing the altarboy in 1988.

The 67-year old from Orchard Mews in Befast, who hasn’t worked in 40 years and who has a criminal record which includes 13 previous sexual offences, was also made the subject of a five-year Sexual Offenders Prevention Order and put on the Sexual Offenders Register for same period.

Passing sentence yesterday, Judge Patricia Smyth revealed that Cassidy’s last sexual offending was committed in 1990 and said she felt the public would be best protected by the pensioner participating in the Sex Offenders Treatment Programme as part of his Probation.

The court heard Cassidy targeted his 14-year old victim in the summer of 1988 during the Clonard Novina, and that Cassidy was volunteering at the Novina at the request of his brother, who at the time was a priest.

Cassidy singled out the altarboy and engaged the teenager in “sexual conversation” before abusing him in an isolated area. He subsequently admitted two offences arising from the incident, namely indecently assaulting a male, and gross indecency with a child.

Judge Smyth said that after reading the Victim Impact Report, it was clear that the victim “carried a heavy burden for many years” before disclosing what occurred. Saying that the victim suffered “immeasurable damage”, Judge Smyth said Cassidy’s plea meant he was now vindicated, which she hoped would now bring him “peace of mind.”

Sentencing Cassidy, the judge said she was taking into account the lasting impact events in his childhood have had on him.