NewsCrime Desk

Youth club sicko abused two other young girls

Crime DeskBy Patrick O'Connell
Richard Blackburn
Richard Blackburn

YOUTH CLUB sex beast Richard Blackburn sexually abused at least two other young girls while driving a bus for the Raphoe Congregational Church – victim Rachel McAuley’s husband today reveals.

In a heartbreaking interview with the Sunday World from the couple’s home in Cumbria, Scotland, Rachel’s husband Stephen lashed out at the sentence handed down by Donegal Circuit Court, saying it means monster Blackburn will be freed in just nine months.

He revealed how two other girls have told the couple they were abused by Blackburn but have yet to speak with Gardaí.

Stephen said he hopes other victims will come forward so that one day vile Blackburn will get the sentence he “really deserves”.

Land Rover dealer Blackburn (57), a former youth club worker with Raphoe Congregational Church in Donegal, was this week exposed as a serial child sex attacker after

Rachel waived her right to anonymity so he could be named and shamed.

A court heard how the vile pervert indecently assaulted Rachel every day when she was aged between 13 and 15. Many of the attacks took place in the back of a converted Mercedes van he had fitted out with a bed, which he used to take children to and from a youth club.

Despite the harrowing evidence before the court, Blackburn, a co-owner in Carnone Country Vehicles in Raphoe, was sentenced to three two-year sentences, with the last year suspended, to run concurrently, or at the same time. This means that after 25 per cent remission is applied he will serve just nine months for his crimes.

In the wake of the sentencing, Rachel’s husband Stephen told the Sunday World the sentence “in no way reflected the damage and suffering” vile Blackburn had inflicted on his wife.

“The sentence was lenient and did not reflect the damage and pain he caused,” Stephen said.

“The fact that he admitted it, the fact the full evidence wasn’t heard, I think that played into it. But to me he should have got the full force of the law and I don’t think the sentence was right.

“I mean, this man will be allowed out again in less than a year. He should have been held accountable for the suffering he caused and I don’t think he was.

“And it’s not just the damage he caused Rachel, it is the impact it has on her even now. When she’s out she could suddenly have a panic attack. The punishment should have been colossal because the damage he did to her was colossal but it wasn’t.”

Stephen said that since Rachel’s case became known in her native Raphoe, two other people have come to them and confirmed they were sexually assaulted by Blackburn.

“There are other victims out there,” Stephen said. “Two people came to us and said it happened to them too. And I would love it if the other victims would come forward and speak with the Gardaí.

“This whole thing, the trial, it was a horrible thing to go through. Rachel and I went through hell, but it was something that needed to be dealt with. I hope and pray that other people do come forward, but you can’t make people go to the Gardaí. They need to do it for themselves.

“He had access to hundreds of children in that church group, there were children all over the place.”

One one occasion the court heard how Blackburn had taken Rachel to Kilkenny on a trip. He stopped at the isolated Barnesmore Gap outside Ballybofey on the way home and sexually assaulted her.

While the assault took place, a passing patrol car stopped to check on the vehicle.

Blackburn told gardaí he had stopped to rest. Gardaí didn’t see Rachel in the sofa-bed in the back because the windows were obscured by curtains.

Rachel told Gardaí that Blackburn had said to her after the incident: “That was close.”

“It is like my teenage years didn’t exist at all,” Rachel said in a letter to the court.

“What happened to me was life-altering, dark and very scary.” 

Rachel, now a school teacher, said she doesn’t sleep at night and constantly feels nervous. She plucked up the courage to report Blackburn at a U.K. police station in 2010 and travelled to Ballybofey six months later to give Gardaí an extensive statement about the attacks.