Bus driver jailed for sexual assault of special needs passenger
A former bus driver for a residential home for people with special needs has received a two-year sentence for sexually assaulting a female passenger 16 years ago.
William Lynn (72), of Marewood Court, Sillogue Crescent, Ballymun, Dublin changed his plea to guilty during his trial after a video of the victim's interview with specialist gardai was played before a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
He had pleaded not guilty to ten counts of sexually assaulting the now 30-year-old woman in the vehicle and also at a private residence on dates between September 1998 and September 1999, while the woman was 13 years old.
Roisin Lacey BL prosecuting, told Judge Sarah Berkeley that the victim had cerebral palsy and "operates her life on the level of a six or seven year old".
Counsel said the Director of Public Prosecution accepted the accused's plea of guilty to two charges of sexual assault on the bus. The man has previous convictions for road traffic offences.
Judge Berkeley described the offending as "abominable" and said that every sexual assault against a child was a most serious offence.
She said the victim had been entrusted into Lynn's temporary care on the way to the residential home.
She also noted that there had been an element of targeting and planning and that the victim continued to suffer.
Shane Costelloe SC, defending, previously outlined to the court his client's ill health and that he had attended a lung clinic at the Mater Hospital.
At a previous hearing, Judge Berkeley said the man's prognosis was a significant factor that must be taken into account.
She sentenced him to two years with the final 12 months suspended and ordered that he undergo two years post-release supervision.
Garda Ronan Cogavin told Ms Lacey that the victim disclosed the abuse after she received a birthday card from the man on her 25th birthday.
She became visibly upset when the card was read out by one of her caregivers at her residential home and immediately made a complaint that she had been abused by the man.
Her mother was notified and she then made a complaint to the gardai.
The man was interviewed in February 2011 after he came voluntarily to the garda station but he totally denied the allegations.
The previous year the victim had been interviewed by specialist gardai. She said that the man had touched her breasts underneath her clothing and touched her private parts while he was driving her home to her family for the weekend.
The woman told gardai she had asked the man to stop doing it and hit him but he didn't listen to her.
A victim impact report was prepared by the woman's mother because she was concerned preparing such a report would be too upsetting for her daughter. The report was handed into court but not read out.
Mr Costelloe told Judge Berkeley that his client had also been charged with sexually assaulting the victim in a private residence but he had continually denied this and the DPP has accepted the two pleas he entered.
He asked the court to accept that although his client did not quite have an unblemished record, his previous convictions were nothing like those before the courts.
Counsel said the man was separated and had two adult children. He was currently living in a old folks home and was entirely dependent on the State pension..
Mr Costelloe said his client apologised for his behaviour and took full responsibility but he couldn't explain how he "allowed himself to do it".
"He has at times felt sucidial and is deeply ashamed of his behaviour. He accepts it was a gross breach of trust," Mr Costelloe told Judge Berkeley.
Sonya McLean/Declan Brennan