‘He took advantage of me...I thought he was a nice old man,’ says sex assault victim

Retired Limerick bus driver (82) jailed for two years after preying on young man

An 82-year-old retired bus driver has been jailed for two years after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a young man in his 30s with an intellectual disability on a number of occasions at different locations in Cork and Limerick.

Denis Carey, of Garden Field, Dromcollogher, Co Limerick had been remanded in custody by Judge Helen Boyle for sentence after he pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court last month to five counts of sexual assault of a protected person on various dates in May and June 2019.

Judge Helen Boyle recalled the evidence given by investigating officer, Sgt Deirdre Tuohy who told how Carey had befriended the injured party before sexually assaulting him.

Sgt Touhy had testified how the injured party had confided in a neighbour that “something was not right” and that the neighbour had alerted the man’s family who in turn contacted gardaí and an investigation was launched into the young man’s complaint.


A father of four, Carey was questioned by gardaí and accepted the allegations made against him by the injured party and he told investigators that he was aware the young man “had special needs and was not a normal consenting adult”.

Ice cream

Judge Boyle also noted the young man’s victim impact statement in which he told of how Carey had preyed upon him after he bought him ice cream only for Carey to sexually assault him and he suffered flashbacks of what had been done to him.

“He took advantage of me. I was too scared to speak up. I thought he was a nice old man… I was disgusted at letting him do these bad things. He told me not to tell anyone. I was so afraid I hated myself… I feel better now,” he added.

Judge Boyle said the injured party was glad Carey had pleaded guilty, saving him from having to testify at trial and he was “was starting to live his life again” having gone for counselling in relation to the abuse which happened in different houses and in a car.

“You (Carey) took advantage of him, and he was afraid to speak up. He had anger, pain and fear and he also felt scared and hurt. He was afraid and hated himself,” said Judge Boyle, recalling that that injured party thanked his mother for her support and gardaí who “listened and never judged”.

Judge Boyle paid tribute to the injured party, whom she said had noted had a mild learning disability but had delivered an “eloquent victim impact statement”, and she acknowledged that Carey had inflicted serious damage on the complainant.

Judge Boyle said that Carey had a previous conviction from 2020 when he pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child after he approached a young boy in a public toilet in north Cork and asked him for oral sex and made sexual gestures to him before the boy fled from the toilet.

And she recalled the submissions made by defence counsel, Elizabeth O’Connell SC who said it was a bizarre situation in that Carey had reached the age of 79 before gaining his first conviction for the exploitation offence, which happened around the same time as these offences.

Aggravating factors

Ms O’Connell had pleaded for leniency, pointing out that a clinical psychologist had reported that Carey, who was now estranged from his wife, was showing a little more insight into his behaviour and was developing a sense of responsibility for his actions.

Judge Boyle said that she had to take account of the aggravating factors including the fact that victim was a vulnerable person who had gone to a school for people with special needs and the fact that the abuse included sexual assaults in the young man’s own home when his mother was away.

The aggravating factors also included the fact that Carey had a previous conviction, albeit it occurred around the same time even though these offences were “considerably more serious than the other offence”.

Judge Boyle said the mitigating factors included the fact that Carey had pleaded guilty which had saved his victim the trauma of having to come to court to testify while it had also saved the state, the time and expense of a trial and credit must be given for that.

She said she accepted the findings of a report by consultant psychologist Brian O’Keeffe that Carey, who had engaged with the probation and welfare service, after being given an 18-month suspended sentence on the exploitation charge, had “a little more insight than previously”.

She said that she also accepted that Mr O’Keeffe had deemed Carey as being of “a moderate to low risk of re-offending” while she noted that he was estranged from his wife and other members of his family and lived alone, leading “an isolated life”, only leaving home to collect his pension.

She pointed out that she had warned Carey when he pleaded guilty that he was facing a custodial sentence for the offence which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years though she was conscious given his age that any sentence she did impose might mean he spent his final years in prison.

Judge Boyle said that she found Carey’s behaviour to be in the mid-range for such offences and it merited a headline sentence of six years, but she would reduce it to four in the light of his guilty plea and suspend the final two years in the light of his age and other mitigating factors.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times