A convicted sex offender has been given an 11 month suspended sentence for failing to comply with the terms of the Sex Offenders’Register.
The former Franciscan brother received a 10 year sentence at Galway Circuit Court in June 2008 after pleading guilty to 18 sample charges of buggery and indecent assault on children in a primary school in county Galway between 1967 and 1972.
Mullingar District Court yesterday heard how 68-year-old John Hannon had failed to inform Gardaí that he had returned to the jurisdiction after being away for more than seven days.
The court also heard that Gardaí, who have been “keeping a watch” on Mr Hannon had not been informed of his departure or where he would be staying while he was out of the country between January 20 and February 2 this year.
Judge John Neilan said Mr Hannon had “defeated the order of the court” through his non-compliance and had deprived this State and others “of being in a position to be on the alert”.
“Nobody knows where he was and a question hangs over the purpose of his journey,” said the judge who was then informed by Sgt Brian Willoughby that he had subsequently been given the address in England and that investigations had shown up “nothing of consequence”.
Judge Neilan said the court wouldn’t tolerate such deviations from the conditions imposed and said it was not sufficient that he had contacted Gardaí immediately on his return.
“It makes a nonsense of the legislation if he leaves the State and if he comes back decides to contact Gardaí.”
Mr Hannon told the court it had had been his “full intention” to alert Gardaí but a letter which he had written had “just happened to remain in my pocket”, and had not been posted.
On his return he had been told by his neighbours that the sergeant had called to his home and he had immediately contacted Gardaí with the letter.
However, Judge Neilan refused to accept that explanation in the light of the deprivation of freedom which arose out of the 10 year sentence which had indicated “the seriousness with which the court viewed the offence”.
Describing the offence as “a serious deviation from the law” the judge imposed an 11 month sentence but ordered the warrant not to be issued subject to Mr Hannon entering a recognisance for seven years on his own bond of €1,000.
He advised Mr Hannon that if he is convicted “of any offence on the Sex Offenders Register or any offence known to law, that the first requirement is that you return to this court to see if this sentence should be activated“.
Mr Hannon appearing not to fully understand the sentence was suspended, interrupted the judge while he was giving the order saying “I plead with you, judge, please”.
The judge said there was good reason for making the order “as a strong and strict reminder to you” of the consequences of failing to observe the regulations.