Former scout leader guilty of indecent assaulting boy (13) in 1980s

He had denied the charge and was put on trial before Judge Helen Boyle and a jury of nine men and three women.
Former scout leader guilty of indecent assaulting boy (13) in 1980s

The 76-year-old former scout leader Michael Noel Sheehan has been convicted of indecently assaulting a 13-year-old boy scout in the 1980s.

The 76-year-old former scout leader Michael Noel Sheehan has been convicted of indecently assaulting a 13-year-old boy scout in the 1980s.

Sheehan denied the charge and was put on trial before Judge Helen Boyle and a jury of nine men and three women.

Sheehan told gardaí that the man who made the complaint against him was “a bit of a fantasist.” 

Unanimous verdict 

However, the jury did not believe this. They came back with a unanimous guilty verdict against Michael Noel Sheehan, also known as Noel Sheehan of Chimneyfields, Glenville, County Cork.

It was agreed between prosecution and defence that bail could be allowed until Wednesday February 16 for the accused to put his affairs in order in advance of sentencing. Defence barrister Paula McCarthy said the accused understood that he would be going into custody on Wednesday. Prosecution barrister Imelda Kelly said following the guilty verdict, “Mr Sheehan’s status has now changed.” 

What the jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court was not told was that another jury had failed to reach a verdict in the same case last year and that this was a re-trial. The new jury took approximately three and a half hours to find him guilty of indecently assaulting the boy-scout on a weekend away in Glenville between January 7 1986 and April 31 1987.

The complainant is now 48 and said he was 13 at the time of the alleged indecent assault. He broke down in tears and was comforted by his wife in court when the unanimous guilty verdict was delivered today. The accused gave no visible reaction to the guilty verdict.

The accused did not give evidence but a memo of his interview by Detective Gardaí Dave Barry and Dave Moynihan was read to Judge Helen Boyle and the jury of nine men and three women.

The defendant accepted that the complainant was present at Chimneyfields in 1986 but totally denied his allegations. He said he never slept near ‘the youngfellas’ and that he had to keep an eye on the kitchen, on the fireplace, on the door and other matters of concern when the scouts were there overnight.

As for an indecent assault he said, “It could not and would not have happened.” 

Details of the allegation were put to him. 

Testimony of complainant

The complainant testified, “While I was sleeping I hear the sound of a zip going down. I am next to Noel Sheehan. A hand and arm comes into my sleeping bag from my left hand side. It is a hairy, man’s hand and arm. The hand goes down to my genitals. The hand goes down it goes back to my penis. The hand is touching my penis… rubbing my testicles.” 

When such details were put to the defendant by detectives, he replied, “Rubbish… I categorically deny it. Not him nor anyone else.

The complainant told the jury, “I am telling you the feelings of a 13-year-old boy – the guy I am here to represent.” 

And he described the feelings he had at the time of the indecent assault.

“I froze. I think for a second, what the ‘eff’ are you doing. 

"The hand goes down it goes back to my penis. The hand is touching my penis… rubbing my testicles.

“This is very sore for me. I am 13. It continues to tap, tap, tap.

“I freeze. I am paralysed. Do I shout? No. Do I fight it off? No. I just stay there and pretend to be asleep.

“It goes on for five to ten minutes maybe. And then the hand comes out of my sleeping back.

“Will I go to the kitchen and get a knife and hurt him? I never hurt anyone in my life. I did not act on it but that is the thought that went through my head.

“I am praying for morning to come.”

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