A PENSIONER who sexually assaulted a toddler at a childcare facility in County Limerick more than three years ago avoided a prison sentence.
James Kett, aged 78, of Faha, Patrickswell admitted abusing the boy, on October 12, 2011 – a number of weeks before his third birthday.
During a sentencing hearing, this Wednesday, Garda Deirdre Foley said the parents of the boy were alerted after their son made comments and gestures to his mother suggesting he had been inappropriately touched while being cared for at the childcare facility.
The child was subsequently interviewed by specially trained gardai as part of the garda investigation.
Limerick Circuit Court was told the operator of the creche was “gobsmacked” when details of the incident first emerged and that the childcare facility has since closed.
In a voluntary statement, the defendant admitted to gardai he had been left alone with the toddler and a number of other children for around ten minutes on the date of the offence.
The incident, the court heard, lasted for less than two minutes.
Mr Kett told gardai he had “fiddled” with the boy’s penis while in the bathroom of the creche and that the incident “just happened”.
When asked he told gardai that while he enjoyed it, he did not become aroused.
Garda Foley told John O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, the parents of the young boy did not wish to make a victim impact statement in court but that they are happy with their son’s progress and that he hasn’t mentioned what happened since.
Brian McInerney BL, defending, said his client, who is suffering from cancer, cooperated with gardai and that his admissions were of “critical importance” given the age of the child.
He said Mr Kett’s reputation has been destroyed and he described the offence as an “isolated aberration in an otherwise unblemished life”.
Imposing sentence, Judge Carroll Moran said there had been a breach of trust and he added that the offence happened at a time “when everybody knows that the sexual abuse of children is not to be tolerated”.
Taking into account the defendant’s age, poor health and his previous good record, he imposed a two year prison sentence, which he suspended for four years.
Following legal submissions, the judge ordered that the childcare facility where the offence happened not be identified in the media in order to protect the identity of the victim.
Judge Moran ordered that Mr Kett’s name be placed on the register of sexual offenders for five years.