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Sunday 16 December 2018

DPP won't appeal the 'lenient' two-and-a-half year term for paedo Tom

Paedophile Tom Humphries
Paedophile Tom Humphries

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has decided against appealing the length of the prison sentence imposed on convicted paedophile Tom Humphries.

The two-and-a-half year term was widely criticised by groups working with victims of sexual abuse when it was handed down last month.

However, court officials confirmed the deadline by which the DPP could have lodged an objection passed yesterday evening with no appeal papers being filed.

Lenient

The DPP still has the option of seeking an extension from a court, but this appears unlikely.

Abuse survivor Fiona Doyle criticised the decision not to appeal.

"I felt that the sentence was very lenient and wouldn't serve as a deterrent against potential abusers," she said.

"It is disheartening. I would be afraid now that it would stop victims from coming forward."

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre chief executive Noeline Blackwell said although she was not surprised by the DPP's decision, she remained disappointed with the sentence "given the seriousness of the harm done to the child victim of the crime".

"We remain of the view that it was a lenient sentence which took huge account of the fall from grace of the offender," she said. Judge Karen O'Connor sentenced the former Irish Times sports writer to concurrent terms of two-and-a-half years for the defilement of a teenage girl and two years for sexually exploiting her.

Senior gardai were known to be unhappy with the sentence and fully expected at the time that it would be appealed in due course.

Remarks

Some of the judge's remarks during the sentencing hearing proved controversial.

The judge said that while she was not excusing his behaviour, it would be difficult not to have sympathy for Humphries.

"It's something of a truism to say the higher the profile and success of a member of society the greater the fall," she said.

The court heard Humphries exchanged at least 16,000 text messages with the girl over three months leading up to March 2011, when his activities were discovered.

He began grooming the girl when she was 14 and sexually abused her when she was 16.

His behaviour was only discovered after one of his daughters found explicit text messages on an old phone she got off him to give to a charity which was recycling handsets.

Humphries identified the then-teenager through his volunteer coaching of GAA teams.

In a victim impact statement she revealed she became depressed and suicidal after her ordeal.

The former journalist admitted two charges of engaging in a sexual act with a girl under the age of 17 and four counts of sexually exploiting the same child.

He had been due to stand trial on sexual assault charges involving a second girl, but the prosecution was dropped.

Humphries is serving his sentence in the Midlands Prison.

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