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'Courts must be harder on sex predators' - abuse survivor hits out as attacker spared jail

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Pamela McLoughlin was abused more than 100 times by Kenneth Tracey

Pamela McLoughlin was abused more than 100 times by Kenneth Tracey

Pamela McLoughlin was abused more than 100 times by Kenneth Tracey

A brave child abuse survivor has hit out after her attacker avoided jail time.

Pamela McLoughlin (37) said the justice system must be harder on predators, after Kenneth Tracey (48), who began abusing her when she was just four, left Wicklow Circuit Court without heading to prison.

Ms McLoughlin spoke of her disappointment after Tracey, who abused her over 100 times when she was aged between four and eight, was spared a custodial sentence.

Father-of-two Tracey, of Oak Drive, Blessington, was handed a four-year suspended jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to seven sample charges of indecent assault.

He was given the suspended sentence on the date of Ms McLoughlin's birthday.

"I feel disappointed that he did not receive a jail sentence but it was not unexpected," she told the Herald.

Playground

"It was too lenient in my opinion and I believe the justice system needs to be harder on this type of predator.

"Despite the suspended sentence handed down in my case I would still encourage other victims to come forward.

"I also want to say that I still have serious concerns about this man, who has two children and lives close to a playground."

The court heard that Tracey abused Ms McLoughlin between July 1987 and July 1991.

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Kenneth Treacy

Kenneth Treacy

Kenneth Treacy

He was aged 15 when the abuse started and it continued until after his 19th birthday.

The facts of the case were outlined by Detective Patrick Twomey, of Blessington Garda Station, who said the sexual abuse happened at Tracey's family home in Rocky Pool Crescent, in the Co Wicklow town.

Tracey and Ms McLoughlin's mothers were almost next-door neighbours and on friendly terms, which meant the victim's mother often visited his property with her daughter.

The detective estimated that there were at least 100 incidents of sexual abuse which happened almost every time she visited the house.

The abuse began in July 1987 when Ms McLoughlin was aged just four and continued until around the time that she made her first Holy Communion.

Det Twomey said it was around this time that she heard a radio report about sexual abuse and realised that she had been the victim of this crime.

She went to her mother and talked about what had happened and from that time on she did not visit Tracey's home or have any contact with him.

However, no complaint was made to gardai at that stage in 1991.

Det Twomey said the abuse had two main forms - one was the then teenage Tracey placing the victim's hands on his erect penis, while the other most common form of abuse was when he placed his hands inside her underwear and fondled her numerous times.

Harrowing evidence of a number of specific incidents were outlined, including an occasion when he spread her legs and then pretended to take a photograph of her.

On another occasion, the victim had been playing with her cousin when Tracey called her into a bedroom and grabbed her arm but she screamed and he allowed her to leave.

Det Twomey said Ms McLoughlin grew up and went to Australia in 2009 with her then husband and while there she attended counselling.

Complaint

She made a complaint about the childhood sexual abuse to police in Sydney, who passed on the information to gardai.

Ms McLoughlin came back home in August 2015, and made a complaint to gardai. In December of that year, Tracey was interviewed by appointment at Blessington Garda Station.

He stated that he had "no knowledge of the accusations".

Tracey was charged with multiple counts of indecent assault in July 2016, but did not plead guilty until last November at Wicklow Circuit Court when he was placed on the sex offenders register.

In a moving victim impact statement, Ms McLoughlin spoke about the impact of the abuse, the anger and isolation she felt, the depression and anxiety it caused her, the paranoia she feels about her own son's safety and her severe difficulties with the Irish justice and criminal process.