herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

Testimonial for abuser Humphries was 'supplied before his guilty plea'

Tom Humphries
Tom Humphries

A testimonial letter written by a leading sports journalist for child sex abuser Tom Humphries is understood to have been supplied before the pervert admitted his guilt.

The testimonial from Sunday Times chief sports writer David Walsh was handed in to a court earlier this week as shocking details emerged of how Humphries groomed and defiled a teenage girl.

The letter, and another written by a former inter-county hurling star, led to concerns expressed by Rape Crisis Networks Ireland about the practice of submitting testimonials in such cases.

Neither Mr Walsh, who became one of the most high-profile sports journalists in the world after exposing cyclist Lance Armstrong as a doping cheat, nor the former hurling star have responded to requests for comment.

However, a source said Mr Walsh's letter was supplied prior to Humphries pleading guilty to two counts of engaging in a sexual act with a girl under the age of 17, and four counts of sexually exploiting the same child. The offences occurred in 2010 and 2011.

Gardai first began investigating Humphries, a former sports writer with the Irish Times, in March 2011 and arrested him in September 2012.

Lengthy

He pleaded guilty to the offences last March following a lengthy investigation.

On Tuesday, his counsel, Hugh Hartnett, told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court he was submitting "a letter from the chief sports writer of the Sunday Times".

He said it referred to Humphries's career "and that he was a hugely regarded, hugely respected, national figure".

Mr Walsh singled Humphries out for praise in his 2012 book, Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit Of Lance Armstrong.

Sports journalist David Walsh
Sports journalist David Walsh

In the book, he wrote of being inspired by Humphries's work, describing him as "by some distance, the most talented sports writer I've ever read. A fine man, too".

The letter from the hurler was also handed in on Tuesday. Mr Hartnett said it detailed the voluntary work Humphries did.

The barrister said the GAA figure was "extremely shocked and disappointed" by what had happened.

Judge Karen O'Connor will pass sentence later this month.

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