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Face of serial sex fiend who used position as a Sea Scout leader to assault boys

Former Sligo teacher Eddie Tighe (74) spent 14 months of his 21-month sentence behind bars after pleading guilty last year to the sex attacks on boys in the late 1970s and 1980s.

Eddie Tighe, a retired teacher and Sea Scouts leader, was jailed in 2021 for sexually assaulting three teenage boys in the late '70s and '80s. Photo: Sunday World

Eamon Dillon

A serial sex abuser who used his position as a Sea Scout leader to assault teenage boys walked free from prison this week.

Former Sligo teacher Eddie Tighe (74) spent 14 months of his 21-month sentence behind bars after pleading guilty last year to the sex attacks on boys in the late 1970s and 1980s.

Tighe previously received a three-year suspended sentence in 1994 at Sligo Circuit Court for sexually assaulting two other victims.

Victim impact statements heard in court last year detailed the long-lasting effects the abuse had on the three men.

This week, Tighe was collected by taxi from the Midlands Prison to continue his life after his latest conviction in February 2021.

Wearing the same hat he wore after being sentenced last year, with his face obscured by a mask, Tighe sat in the back of the car as it drove away from the prison.

Back at his Co Sligo home he declined to speak to the Sunday World when asked if there are more victims he hasn't told the gardaí about or of the impact his depraved attacks had on his victims.

Eddie Tighe, following his release from prison being driven away in a taxi. Photo: Sunday World

"I'm not interested in talking to you," he said, before walking into his detached home which was bought for €200,000 in 2016.

One of his victims, who waived his anonymity in court last year, said after the hearing that an apology from Tighe was "not worth the paper it's written on."

Patrick Walsh told the Sligo Champion at the time he wanted other victims of sexual abuse to find the courage to report their ordeals.

"You can come forward, there's no shame in it," he said.

"I don't have to hide it any more... I had to get it out of my system and hopefully by naming and shaming him and going public others will come forward. If there's anyone in Sligo, don't be afraid to go to the garda station."

He also said Tighe's status in the community allowed him to continue his pattern of abuse.

"It's a pattern he had with every one of us and it was repeat, repeat. Young fellas were afraid to come forward because of who he was," Mr Walsh said.

"People in the past who stood up for Eddie Tighe, they have a lot to answer for."

Tighe pleaded guilty to four counts of indecent assault in 1978, 1982 and 1986, during the time he was in his thirties and an English and Latin teacher in Summerhill.

He abused Mr Walsh in July 1978 when he was just 13 years old, after the youngster got a job at an event at the Rosses Point Yacht Club.

Mr Walsh's father had grown up on the same street as Tighe and believed his son would be safe because of his presence there.

On the second day of the event Tighe persuaded the youngster to go 'skinny-dipping' with him during which he rubbed his body against the boy.

Eddie Tighe, at his Co Sligo home following his release from prison. Photo: Sunday World

On a subsequent evening during the event he pulled the boy on to his groin and rubbed himself against him.

Another victim told how Tighe insisted he be naked for a swimming test and on another occasion isolated him from a canoeing group and rubbed himself against the boy.

Then, during a Sea Scout training exercise, he effectively tied a boy with his swimming trunks and thrust against him for several minutes.

In his victim impact statement, Mr Walsh said he left school at the age of 13 because he couldn't cope with meeting Tighe as he went to school.

He said he became dependent on alcohol and went from being an outgoing person to walking with his head down.

He had strong thoughts of suicide and he lost contact with his family and his son. His father trusted Tighe to look after him at the Yacht Club as they lived across the street from each another growing up.

He said he still has nightmares and lost out on seeing his son grow up because drinking was more important.

Tighe's second victim said his childhood was replaced with fear, guilt and self-blame and it had taken decades to come to terms with what happened to him.

It was only in recent years he was able to speak to his wife about what happened and goes through bouts of severe depression.

The third victim also spoke of the effect the crimes committed had on him, adding that Tighe had hoodwinked families and had taken advantage of him to satisfy his own desires.

He said he felt a deep sense of shame, a shame he has carried for 30 years.

It was heard at the 2021 sentence hearing that Tighe resigned his teaching job and from the scouts after 1994.

He had not come to the attention of gardaí in 27 years and had no risk of reoffending.

In a letter of apology read out in court, Tighe said he had a deep sense of shame for what had happened and expressed remorse to the victims. In sentencing, Judge Francis Comerford said although the offences committed were a long time ago, the consequences had had an effect for many decades.

He said trust was abused and there seemed to be a process of grooming and also a degree of premeditation.

The judge imposed a total sentence of one year and nine months in prison, which he said would have been longer only for Tighe's age.

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