Man, 70s, appears in Donegal court on raft of historical sex charges

June 20, 2024

A man has appeared in court in Donegal on 25 historical sex charges.

The man, who is now aged in his 70s and cannot be named for legal reasons, will be sent forward to the Central Criminal Court to stand trial.

The charges he faces include one count of rape and 24 of indecent assault, all against one alleged victim at a location in County Donegal on dates between 1976 and 1982.

The alleged victim was a child at the time.

The accused man, who resides in Northern Ireland, was granted bail on strict conditions after a €1,000 bail bond was put up by family members.

The man appeared before a sitting of Falcarragh District Court, held at Letterkenny courthouse on Wednesday afternoon.

Detective Garda Donal Callaghan of Letterkenny Garda Station gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution of the man.

He was arrested at 9.40am on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 under section 10 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984.

After being conveyed to the custody suite of Letterkenny Garda Station, he was charged by Detective Garda Callaghan.

The accused man replied “not guilty” when each of the 25 charges were put to him by detectives.

The court heard that a number of arrest warrants for the man’s extradition from Northern Ireland were previously issued.

The man was accompanied by family members and used a court-provided hearing aid throughout the proceedings.

Sergeant Jim Collins objected to bail being granted. Sergeant Collins said the allegations against the man were of a serious nature and told the court that gardai believed the man could attempt to evade justice by not showing up for the matter to be dealt with.

While the man appeared by arrangement, Sergeant Collins argued that this was “an 11th hour situation”.

Mr Rory O’Brien, solicitor for the accused, said his client “arrived voluntarily” to Letterkenny and said there was no probability of the man either absconding or interfering with the alleged victim or any witnesses in the matter.

Mr O’Brien said the man “wishes to have his day in court to fight his case as he is entitled to do” and argued that refusing bail would be “grossly unfair”.

Judge Éiteáin Cunningham, after considering the submissions of Sergeant Collins and Mr O’Brien, granted bail, but imposed strict conditions on the man.

A €1,000 cash lodgement was provided by family members.

The man was ordered to reside at an address given to gardai and must not commit any further offence and be otherwise of good behaviour.

He was ordered to sign on once a week at Buncrana Garda Station and to be contactable 24/7 by gardai on a telephone number provided to the authorities.

The man must have no contact in any way whatsoever, either directly or indirectly, to include social media, with any witness or alleged injured party.

The man’s passport has been surrendered to the PSNI, the court was informed. He was ordered to undertake not to apply for a new passport, a duplicate passport or any travel documentation and to appear at each and every remand until the charges are disposed of unless excused from doing so by the court.

Sergeant Collins told the court that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has directed prosecution on indictment at the Central Criminal Court.

A book of evidence will now be prepared in the case.

The matter was adjourned to Buncrana District Court on September 24.

Judge Cunningham warned the accused man that he must abide by the conditions imposed.

Judge Cunningham said: “I need him to understand that even if there is one breach, for what isn’t an accepted medical reason, then matters will be brought back and I will revoke bail. I want to be very clear on that.

“The court will strictly monitor these matters to ensure that he is adhering. If there is any breach, the matter will come before me again by way of an application to revoke bail.”