herald

Thursday 22 June 2017

No apology offered as paedophile ex-teacher walks free from prison

Michael Byrne slammed the car door and was driven away from prison
Michael Byrne slammed the car door and was driven away from prison

Convicted paedophile Michael Byrne refused to apologise to his victim as he was released from Arbour Hill Prison.

Byrne, from Arklow, Co Wicklow, walked out of the prison's gates at 10am yesterday, wearing a navy jumper and coat and a blue scarf.

The paedophile slammed the car door as he was asked by the Herald if he felt any remorse for his actions or if he would return to his Arklow home next to a primary school.

He was then quickly driven away.

Byrne, a former secondary school teacher and leader of the Arklow Brass Band, had served three years in jail after being sentenced to eight, with the final four years suspended.

Dangerous

Cormac Walsh, who waived his right to anonymity after being molested by Byrne over a six-year period from the age of 11, warned that his abuser is a "dangerous" threat to children.

"His house in Arklow is located next to St Joseph's boys' and girls' national school in Arklow. I contacted the school during the week," he said.

"They say they are going to check out what they need to do.

"My view is that the school needs to inform parents that there is a convicted paedophile possibly coming back to live next to the school."

Mr Walsh, now a self-employed accountant living in Arklow, added: "I've been in contact with the gardai and they haven't rung me back yet."

He described Byrne as a "piece of s**t", adding: "He has to notify the gardai within seven days if he is going to change his address as he is on the sex offenders' register."

Byrne (79), from Rosewell, Templerainey, Arklow, was sentenced at Wicklow Circuit Court on April 10, 2014, after pleading guilty to four sample charges of indecent assault.

After Mr Walsh, then aged 13, underwent surgery on one of his testicles, Byrne told him that it was necessary for him to take samples of his victim's sperm.

Mr Walsh has remained haunted by the abuse.

"It's difficult to talk about it still. It's daunting now that I know he's going to be free but I won't ever be free," he said.

Mr Walsh pointed out that the paedophile received an early release.

"It was hard enough getting him into prison, but once he got in there I was able to relax a little bit. I knew where he was and I felt safe," he said.

Mr Walsh said he was living a life sentence of suffering, and described Byrne's sentence as "ridiculous".

"Byrne got a sentence of eight years but the courts suspended half of it, and then he got a year off for good behaviour," he said.

"How could he misbehave in jail? There's no children in there for him to b****r."

Horrific

Mr Walsh successfully recorded Byrne on tape admitting the horrific abuse, which he said ultimately helped secure the conviction.

"The only reason he pleaded guilty was because he knew I had a tape of him admitting that he abused me," added the married father-of-two.

Mr Walsh said Byrne began "grooming" him in 1973, two years after receiving a conviction for engaging in gross indecency with a male in 1971.

At Byrne's failed attempt in 2014 to have his sentence for the abuse of Mr Walsh reviewed, the Court of Appeal noted that the 1971 conviction could have been homosexual activity with a male, which was illegal at the time.

Byrne has also failed to pay Mr Walsh €200,000 in compensation for the crimes he committed.

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