October 2014

78-year-old man given suspended sentence for sex assault on two-year-old boy


AN elderly pensioner has avoided a prison sentence after admitting he sexually assaulted a two-year-old boy in a county Limerick child-minding facility.

James Kett (78) of Faha, Patrickswell, pleaded guilty to sexual assaulting the child by interfering with his penis. Kett had access to the childminding facility but the owners were completely unaware of the incident that occurred in October 2011.

During the sentencing hearing at Limerick Circuit Court last week, the victim’s mother said she was getting her son ready for bed when he said “yum yum, my mickey mac”, the term he used to describe his penis, and referred to an older man.

The mother told her husband what happened, he went to the child minder and Gardaí were alerted. Specially trained Garda interviewers questioned the child who was too young to be interviewed on camera.The little boy repeated what he said to his mother and told them his clothes were off at the time as they were wet.

Garda Deirdre Foley said that the child gestured in such a way that he moved his mouth towards his penis when he was describing what had happened with Kett.

The child minder co-operated fully with the investigation and was “shocked and gobsmacked” about what happened.

The former ESB worker, who was widowed when his own child was very young, initially denied the allegations but, in a second interview, admitted what happened. He said he “fiddled” with the boy’s penis for a minute and a half but denied any oral contact.

He said it never happened before and was opportunistic. Asked if he had enjoyed it, he replied: “I won’t say that I didn’t”. However he insisted he didn’t get aroused.

The child-minding facility had since closed and the HSE investigation ceased.

Prosecution counsel John O’Sullivan said the toddler’s parents are happy with their son’s progress and he had shown no ill effects.

Defence Counsel Brian McInerney said his client apologised unreservedly and was “disgusted with himself”.

He added it was an “isolated aberration in an otherwise unblemished life”.

He was recently diagnosed with cancer and had a tracheotomy.

Mr McInerney asked “what benefit to society would be served by imposing a custodial sentence”.

Judge Carroll Moran said that Mr Kett was in a position of trust which he had betrayed and the child was not in a position to resist.

Removing media reporting restrictions, he said it was in the public interest to know that the offence had occurred in a child minders but ordered that further details of the location or owner not be reported.

He imposed a two year prison term, suspending it for four years and ordered that James Kett’s name be added to the Sex Offenders Register for five years.