There were emotional scenes at court today as a youth group leader turned sex offender who has been living in Dungannon was convicted of sexually abusing a boy who has since tragically died.
As the jury foreperson unanimously convicted 52-year-old Colm Joseph Shaw at Downpatrick Crown Court, his victim’s parents burst into tears and hugged each other as they sobbed with relief.
As Shaw was handcuffed to a prison officer and led away to the cells having been warned that he faces a certain jail term, the grieving parents held aloft a picture of the tragically deceased son Shaw had molested, with the weeping mother exclaiming “that’s my son, that’s my son.”
The jury of nine men and three women deliberated for 90 minutes before returning to unanimously convict Shaw on three charges of indecent assault and one relating to an act of gross indecency with a child.
During the week long hearing, the jury heard that when Shaw’s victim was between 10 and 13-years-old, on dates between 13 December 2003 and 25 April 2005, he repeatedly touched the boy inappropriately and forced his victim to touch him.
Tragically his victim could not testify in person as he had passed on as a result of a road traffic collision but following prosecution applications, his video interview with police was played to the jury.
The jury also heard evidence from another alleged victim of Shaw who had made allegations in 1992 but whose case never got to court.
As part of “bad character” evidence, he testified that when he was around 12 he was also subjected to incidents of Shaw touching his private parts and the jury heard that in March last year Shaw, with an address at Perry Street in Dungannon, was put on probation for offences relating to the downloading of indecent images of children.
Giving evidence on his own behalf, Shaw denied each and every allegation.
Following the damning convictions, however, trial Judge Piers Grant warned the deviant “it is inevitable that a substantial custodial sentence will be imposed.”
Applying for bail defence lawyer Tony Lunny revealed that Shaw’s family had no idea he was even on trial, telling the court they were “unaware of his predicament.”
Remanding Shaw into custody and adjourning passing sentence until November when pre-sentence probation reports have been completed, Judge Grant stated, “that’s his look out.”