herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Man who attempted to abduct girl (11) had 92 previous convictions

Michael Martin is taken away from Portlaoise Circuit Court by officers, after been given a 17 years sentence
Michael Martin is taken away from Portlaoise Circuit Court by officers, after been given a 17 years sentence

A circuit court judge praised the actions of three brave children and the gardai as he handed down a 17-year-sentence, with the final four suspended, to a man who attempted to abduct a child.

Michael Martin (36), a Dubliner with an address at Shandon Court, Yellow Road, Waterford city was sentenced for false imprisonment at Portlaoise Circuit Court yesterday.

He had 92 previous convictions at the time of the offence.

Judge Keenan Johnson said "the detection and apprehension of the accused was a great piece of detective work, which was aided by the keen observations of (three named children)."

The children, two boys and their 11-year-old sister, had been playing at Cullohill in Co Laois when the accused approached on March 4. The man grabbed the girl and pushed her into the passenger seat of the jeep he had stolen the previous evening.

As he did so, the girl's 10-year-old brother attacked Mr Martin and clung onto the side of the jeep as he attempted to drive away. During the boy's attack on Martin, the young girl was able to escape.

Details

"They were able to describe the accused, the vehicle he was driving, and also to give details of part of the registration plate.

"All three children are a credit to their family. Their father also deserves great credit for the speed with which he reported the matter to the gardai," he remarked. He said after his arrest, Martin hadn't made admissions in relation to the incident even after being identified by two of the children in identity parades.

"It was only after the Garda forensic investigation found fibres from (the girl's) clothes in the jeep, that the accused admitted involvement in the abduction," he commented.

Judge Johnson described a psychological report as disturbing.

Mr Martin is suffering from chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and has addiction issues, a mild mental handicap and depression.

A previous hearing was told he suffered sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect as a child.

"The accused's background was both chaotic and unhappy. He suffered a number of significant bereavements throughout his life including the death of his first girlfriend by suicide, while she was pregnant with their child," he said.

Resources focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment could probably provide society with better outcomes, Judge Keenan remarked.

"What he did was a terrible thing. However I am not sure that he fully appreciates that. If I had the option, I would impose a life sentence, not so much to punish the accused, but rather to protect society."

Judge Keenan instead imposed a 17-year-sentence with the final four years suspended for five years.

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