The guards said “He has rights to walk up and down the street and call for a cup of tea. I was looking at the guards saying what about my kids’ rights to play on the street?”
Tensions in the close-knit Radharc na Baile estate in Drumshanbo reached boiling point this week after Chris Morrison (25), who was convicted of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl, was recently spotted visiting his girlfriend’s family home.
The house looks out onto the green where local children play.
Mother of four Nolle Allen said “The guards said he isn’t breaking any laws as long as he doesn’t stay over.
“He has rights to walk up and down the street and call in for a cup of tea. I was looking at the guards saying what about my kids’ rights to play on the street?”
Gardai have been called to the estate a number of times this week as locals voiced their fury about Morrison’s visits to the area. But he subsequently told the Sunday World he would never return to the area and asked that his girlfriend’s family be left alone.
Morrison, who was previously known as Ryan Humpage and is originally from England, first came to attention in Ireland in April 2015 when gardai issued an alert saying he was wanted by UK cops in connection with rape, theft and assault allegations and was believed to have travelled to Ireland.
Gardai warned that he was dangerous and not to be approached.
Morrison, who used numerous aliases including Dylan Dunne, Ryan Willington, Ryan Williams and Karl Ward, also featured on Crimewatch UK and was eventually caught in Co. Antrim and sent back to England to stand trial on four counts of raping a 13-year-old girl.
He was subsequently convicted of sexually activity with a child and jailed for 18 months.
The judge described him as someone who was “determined and controlling and has an undesirable interest in children”.
Morrison is currently living in a caravan on land owned by his girlfriend’s family in rural Leitrim but has also spent time at her family’s home in Radharc Na Baile.
At a court hearing in Dublin earlier this year, Morrison’s lawyer said the family had ““welcomed him with open arms” despite his convictions.
When he initially arrived in the area a couple of years ago locals were unaware of his history but found out after he allegedly robbed money from his girlfriend’s family and disappeared.
Noelle said: “A couple of years ago the family came knocking to my door in a panic and said that the boyfriend of the daughter had stolen money. He transferred over €2,000 from their account into his account.”
She said when she talked to Morrison’s girlfriend about it, she revealed he used to go by the name Ryan Humpage.
“I said, ‘why would he have two names?’ and then googled his full name and I nearly died. That’s how we found out about him.”
Noelle said he was seen going into the house recently with a towel covering his head while other neighbours also reported seeing him.
Earlier this week graffiti was daubed on the driveway of the house and on Thursday gardai were called after local gathered with signs outside the home.
When we spoke to him after the protest, Morrison initially told the Sunday World that he hasn’t been at the house in Radharc na Baile in two years
“I don’t live at that address. They’re assuming I’m at that property but I’m not. That was two years ago when I was down there. It was a very long time ago. I said to the guards I wouldn’t even set foot down there with the threats that have been made to ourselves.”
When we pointed out that he had been seen in the area, he admitted had been there more recently.
“I was there once maybe, I can’t even remember when it was, ah jaysis, four, five, six weeks ago, I was there once for an hour. There’s no obligations, I’m allowed to be there. Under the law as long as I don’t sleep there.”
He denied going into the house with a towel over his head.
“This is all made up. I don’t even sleep up there, I sleep up here. I have a full time job working from home. I work from up here.”
He said his girlfriend’s family are now living in fear and may leave the area.
“They’re scared so they need to get out some way.
“I want to clearly state that I’m not there and clearly state that that family need to be left alone.”
He said he would fully understand the neighbour’s concerns if he continued to visit the house.
“I know. I fully understand. If I was staying in that house - fair enough – what they’re doing is right but when I’m not staying in that address it’s very hard hearing people [living in the house] crying.
“They shouldn’t have to live like that. They should be getting help but nobody wants to help.”
Since his child sex conviction Morrison has received a number of convictions in Ireland and the UK for failing to inform gardai and UK cops of where he was staying. He received two suspended sentences in Ireland over such matters including one earlier this year after he left the country last year without informing gardai.
He said he is appealing that sentence as he claims the court order about informing cops of his whereabouts was only supposed to last five years.
“It happened in 2015 and I was subject to a five year order which expired in 2020. I have the guards on my side, everyone’s one my side. We’re just waiting on the courts now.”
He was also jailed for 10 months in 2020 after he left a B&B in west Cork without paying, also stole the bed linen, and then later stole his friend’s bank card to withdraw €600 and spent €125 on the card in a shop.
He was also convicted of an attack on a woman in in the UK during which he burnt her with a can of body spray and a lighter.
Locals in Radharc na Baile said they are not convinced by Morrison’s pledge not to return to the estate.
Noelle said: “He was supposed to be gone [after 2020] but then people started seeing him around again.”
Her husband Keith Allen added: “There’s 19 kids who play around here.
“A guard said to us what if they made a pledge and said he wouldn’t be around again [would we be happy]. We all said no because they already done that and then brought him back.”
Mark and Michelle Hehir also expressed concerns about Morrison’s recent presence in the area.
Mark, who is originally from Ireland but emigrated to the U.S. years ago, said he moved home with his wife and son because they wanted a safer environment for him to grow up in.
“We left because of gun violence and ended up in the most protected country for paedophiles,” Michelle said.
“In America you have Megan’s Law so you can type in your address and see the sex offenders in your area.”
Mark said parents in the estate were extremely anxious over Morrison’s presence. “You can see the stress in people’s faces. They are literally standing at their front doors the whole time watching their kids. Kids were locked up during Covid and now they have to be locked up again.”
Other neighbours told how Morrison had been in their house before they learned of his convictions. One woman said he was in her house helping change a lightbulb and would call around to see if people wanted anything in the shops. Other parents said kids were afraid to sleep alone at night and play on the street.
Michelle said before the protest took place residents tried to go through official channels.
“We sent out emails to the guards in Drumshanbo, the council, councillors, TDs. We have done everything. Someone said to us we don’t want to give Drumshanbo a bad name but I am sorry I would rather give Drumshanbo a bad name than offer up my kids.
“For us to know this now and stay quiet, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if something happened to one of my kids. The guilt that you’d feel.”