Former VFI president and politician was ‘like a God’ in Tuam, indecent assault trial hears

Paul O’Grady (63) of Dublin Road, Tuam, pictured on Tuesday at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court court, where he has pleaded not guilty to twelve charges of indecent assault on dates between 1974 and 1976. Pic: Courtpix

Paul O’Grady (63) of Dublin Road, Tuam, pictured on Tuesday at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court court, where he has pleaded not guilty to twelve charges of indecent assault on dates between 1974 and 1976. Pic: Courtpix

A Galway man who allegedly sexually abused a boy in the seventies “was like a god” in his home town, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard.

Paul O’Grady (63 ) of Dublin Road, Tuam, a former teacher, publican and peace commissioner, had pleaded not guilty to 12 charges of indecent assault on dates between 1974 and 1976.

This was reduced to six charges on day three of the trial.

The 48-year-old complainant said O’Grady would often offer him lifts home from the town centre. He said around the time he started secondary school O'Grady was driving him home but turned up a side road and stopped the car.

He allegedly started to molest the boy before driving him home without saying a word. He said the abuse continued in a similar circumstances for the next three years, happening “every three, four or six weeks.”

He said O’Grady would sometimes perform a sex act on him and make him reciprocate. He said on some occasions O’Grady gave him money or alcohol.

Some of the alleged abuse happened in O’Grady's office in the town centre. He said he and his friends would play pool in a back room of the office and the accused would wait until they were alone together before abusing him.

He said the abuse happened about 20 times before he dropped out of school and left the country.

The man told prosecuting counsel, Mr Remy Farrell BL, that he did not tell anyone because O’Grady was “like a god around town”.

“He was a teacher, a peace commissioner, a publican, he had his hand in everything,” he said.

He said he did not have the courage to tell anyone and he could not talk to his family about it.

“The guards were going in and out of his office every day; I was getting into trouble. Nobody would have believed me,” he told the court.

He said he returned to Ireland years later and was in the same pub with O’Grady one night.

He said he felt the accused was “sniggering” at him and “making a fool” out of him so he followed O’Grady outside when he was leaving. He said he told O’Grady that he had ruined his life and “I'm going to get you one way or the other.”

He said O’Grady replied, “sure, who'd believe you.” He said at this point the accused remained a prominent citizen in the town.

The complainant said in the early nineties when he was in another bar in the town, O’Grady saw him and welcomed him home, sending drink over to his table. He said he accepted the alcohol because he was drinking very heavily at the time.

He said he left the pub and was “staggering home” when O’Grady pulled up and invited him to a house for more drinking. He said he went with him and found himself in a bed where the accused was “touching” him.

He said he does not remember what else happened but woke up in the morning feeling “disgusted and dirty.”

The complainant told Mr Farrell that the alleged abuse left him depressed and suicidal.

“I would be depressed one minute but fine the next. It’s like a time bomb inside me, waiting to burst.” he said.

When asked by counsel what affect the abuse had on him over the years, the complainant replied that he had tried to kill himself a few times and “went heavy on the drink”.

“I tried to set the house on fire and tried slitting my wrists,” the complainant said. He added that he was now glad that the abuse had come out “because people have to know”.

He told Mr Farrell that he disclosed the abuse to his partner who then contacted the gardai.

He said when he made a statement he asked the gardai if they believed him and they replied that they did. “I did not think anyone would believe me,” the man said.

On the second day of the trial, the man denied before a jury that he was “being deliberately vague” about details surrounding the alleged abuse he suffered at the hands of Mr O’Grady so as not to be “caught out”.

The now 48-year-old complainant did not accept a suggestion from Mr Martin Giblin SC defending, that he was deliberately not giving dates and details, such as what car Mr O’Grady was driving at that time, because “you are afraid to go into details for fear of being caught out”.

“For twenty years I have been living with this and I drank to wash this out of my head, to get rid of it and I can’t,” the man said. “I will take a lie detector test to prove to you and everyone that Paul O’Grady abused me.”

When the man got upset and raised his voice after further questions from Mr Giblin, he refused to accept a suggestion that he was “engaging in a strategy to get upset at every question to distract attention from the more difficult questions.”

“Not a notion. I am not that clever,” the man replied.

He later told Mr Giblin that this was “not a matter of me waiting 30 years and picking Paul O’Grady’s name out of a hat,” and he described the accused as being “the life and soul of Tuam”.

The man told the jury that he was ashamed and disgusted by what had happened because he does not know why he had not stopped him or why he had not killed him. “I would have served a life sentence and it would be over by now,” the complainant said.

He accepted that he had once told gardai he was sexually assaulted in an office by Mr O’Grady about a dozen times but later stated it was twice. “It could have been twice, 10 or 50 times, I can’t remember”, the man said.

He did not accept a suggestion from Mr Giblin that it was an entirely different number in relation to the times he was abused by Mr O’Grady in that office and “that number was zero”.

The man accepted that he had stolen a calculator from Mr O’Grady’s office but refused to accept that this had been the only time he had been in there.

He said he may have taken the calculator after Mr O’Grady had abused him there but it was then put to him by Mr Giblin that the calculator was stolen in 1979 and he claims the abuse ended in 1977.

The complainant did not accept a suggestion from counsel that Mr O’Grady “never laid a finger on you”.

“I will go to the ends of the earth to prove that he abused me from the time I was in first year to the time I was in third year. I hate him for what he has done to me. I have no reason to sit here and lie. No reason at all. Paul O’Grady abused me,” the complainant said.

When asked by counsel why he had not told gardai earlier about the abuse the man replied: “I was a young lad. How could I have gone to the gardai and say Paul O’Grady abused me and him a teacher, a peace commissioner and whatever else he was?”

He told Mr Giblin that the only person he could tell was his partner. He said he could not even go to his own family. “I was disgusted and I still am.”

“You do not know what it’s like to be abused as a young lad, being given drink left right and centre,” he said.

When asked by counsel why, when he returned to Ireland having left as a young teenager, he went to Paul O’Grady’s premises for a drink and why had he not gone somewhere else, the man replied that if he was meeting friends he would meet them there.

He did not accept a suggestion that his claim that Mr O’Grady had given him a drink one night shortly after he came home, followed him to the toilet and asked him if he was home for good, was “a complete fairy tale” and “complete fiction”.

“I swear by almighty god it’s not a fairy tale,” he said.

He said he took a lift home from Mr O’Grady that particular night and went to a house with him because that was “the hold he had over me”. He added that he would have got into anyone’s car that night that had pulled up and offered him a lift, “because that’s what I am like with drink on me”.

He again did not accept a suggestion that this whole incident was a fairy tale.

The trial continues before Judge Frank O’Donnell and a jury of six men and six women.

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