herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

'I could not abandon a friend' - Walsh on reference for abuser

Former Irish Times journalist Tom Humphries is awaiting sentence
Former Irish Times journalist Tom Humphries is awaiting sentence

Sunday Times writer David Walsh has broken his silence to explain why he wrote a character reference for disgraced ex-colleague Tom Humphries, saying he could not "abandon" a "friend of 30 years".

"The young girl whose trust Tom betrayed has suffered terribly from this crime," Mr Walsh told the Herald yesterday after his reference was submitted to court last week.

"I wrote a personal character reference for Tom because we have been friends for 30 years and, despite the serious wrong he had done, I could not abandon him."

Mr Walsh's comments came on the day it was revealed ex-Irish Times journalist Humphries, who is awaiting sentence on six counts relating to the sexual abuse of a minor, has been moved from Cloverhill Prison over fears he would be attacked by other inmates.

On Thursday, Humphries (54) was taken by prison van to the Midlands Prison, where he was confined to a cell and placed under special observation, commonly referred to as 'suicide watch' by officers.

Humphries is being held on the C1 landing, which is also home to a number of notorious inmates including killers Warren Dumbrell and Stephen Egan and Dundon-McCarthy crime figures 'Red' Larry McCarthy and Ger Dundon.

A source confirmed to the Sunday World that Humphries has been classed as a high-risk inmate.

Fears

"There were fears, given the high-profile nature of this inmate, that he would be a target as long as he remained in Cloverhill Prison," said the source.

"For that reason, a decision was taken to move him to the Midlands Prison, where he was placed in a committal cell on the C1 landing on Thursday.

"He has a basic cell. It has a bed, television, kettle, toilet and sink and is monitored every 15 minutes by officers.

"He is regarded as a suicide risk and, until that changes, he will remain under special observation by officers."

A second source said Humphries will remain in prison- issue clothes for as long as he remains in the committal area.

Grooming

Humphries will be sentenced on October 24 for grooming a girl from the age of 14 and then sexually abusing her.

Last Tuesday, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Humphries exchanged 16,000 text messages with the girl during a three-month period to March 2011 as part of the grooming process.

The journalist, who was let go by The Irish Times after admitting the charges in March, went on to sexually abuse the girl on five occasions after asking her to meet him.

The young woman, who was sexually exploited as a child by Mr Humphries, revealed how she was left feeling suicidal following her ordeal in a harrowing victim impact statement.

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