A former Lough Swilly bus driver who indecently assaulted a ten year old girl has been jailed for two years and two months.
Pensioner Patrick McMonagle, of Somme Park, pleaded guilty to six charges of indecent assault between February 1981 and December 1984.
Derry Crown Court heard the victim was aged between ten and 13 at the time.
The abuse took place in 75-year-old McMonagle’s home.
He would get the girl to sit on his knee, put a blanket over them and sexually touch her.
The court heard that this happened on a weekly basis over the course of three years.
McMonagle also touched the girl in the bathroom of his home.
A prosecuting barrister said the aggravating factors in the case include the breach of trust, the age of the victim at the time and the damaging effect on her.
The complainant did not take part in a victim impact statement but the court heard that every time she saw a Lough Swilly bus it brought back memories for her and made her angry.
She also said that she ‘tries to let the past lie because if I don’t I think it will eat me up’.
The woman was not present in court for the sentencing hearing.
It was revealed McMonagle has no previous convictions, admitted the offences during police interview and is assessed as posing a low risk of committing further offences.
Defence counsel Mark Reel said his client suffers from a number of significant physical and mental health problems.
He said the pensioner feels a ‘sense of shame’ over his offending behaviour and recognises the harm that he caused to the victim.
The barrister added that at the time of the offences, McMonagle was drinking very heavily and this led to him losing both his job and his marriage.
Mr Reel said the court is ‘now sentencing a very different person from the person who committed the offences’.
Passing sentence, Judge Gemma Loughran said the indecent assaults perpetrated by the 75-year-old were at the ‘more serious end of the scale’.
She said it was an abuse of trust and the defendant ‘exploited’ the victim for his own sexual gratification.
The judge added McMonagle had engaged in grooming behaviour and justified his behaviour ‘because she didn’t resist you’.
She accepted that the pensioner now understand the trauma that he caused and is ashamed of what he had done.
The judge also said McMonagle is relieved his offending has come to light and believes that a custodial sentence ‘is what you deserve’.
She said society expects no less than a custodial sentence for cases involving indecent assault of a child to ‘punish you and deter others who rob children of their innocence’.
The judge jailed McMonagle for a total of two years and two months.
He will also be subject to the notification requirements of the sex offenders register for ten years.