EX-SCOUT SEX TRIAL
Tuesday, 5 March 2013
THE trial against a former scout leader from Bessbrook has reopened after being aborted earlier in the year when the jury was discharged for legal reasons.
Colin Finnegan, who now has an address at Stonehill Mews, Lurgan, but spent most of his life in Bessbrook, is accused of 70 counts of sexual abuse against four boys. The charges are dated between 1982 and 1997.
During a fraught first week in front of the fresh jury, the court heard Witness One describe a spectrum of sexual abuse he says Finnegan subjected him to between the ages of eight or nine until just before his 16th birthday.
The witness claimed that Finnegan's systematic abuse of him began during a 1982 camping trip to Gosford Forest Park when the complainant was a cub-scout and Finnegan a fully-fledged scout.
The court heard it claimed that the now 43-year-old entered the complainant's tent, which he was sharing with four or five other young boys, on the first night of the trip.
The witness said he was the only child awake in the tent and that Finnegan, who had a torch with him, began chatting to him before asking him if he'd ever seen another boy's private parts. "I didn't really understand what he was asking," the witness said.
He told the court that Finnegan, who was four-and-a half years older than the then eight or nine year-old, "wanted to compare sizes".
“There was a young fella lying to my right, asleep," the witness said. "Finnegan proceeded to pull down his underwear to the point where his penis was visible in the light of the torch. He asked me if mine was as big as his and then he began fondling the young fella's penis between his fingers. That's all I remember of that specific incident on that night."
The witness told the court that Finnegan began collecting him from home to walk him to weekly meetings at the scout hall.
The court was told that Finnegan "would always bring the conversation round to a sexual topic" and, at times, brought pornographic magazines, which he showed the complainant.
“He would ask me if I pulled people off," the witness said. "I absolutely didn't understand. He talked about ejaculating into your mouth. He would tell me I should insert a hairbrush handle into my anus if I was masturbating."
The court was told that, as well as walking the complainant to the cub meetings, the defendant would also walk him home.
“On many occasions he would ask me to stay behind to do things in the hall," the witness said. "He would tell the others I was staying behind to help him tidy up. He would usually end up abusing me."
The witness described sexual abuse across the full spectrum, from mutual masturbation to oral sex, as well as digital and penile anal penetration, which he said happened when he was aged 10 or 11 and described as "absolutely excruciating."
The witness told the court that, after the first alleged incident of anal penetration, he found blood in his underwear when he got home, and described "burying" his pants in the outside bin to prevent his mother from seeing it.
“My overarching memory is the intense pain I had for days after," he told the court.
The witness claimed anal abuse occurred several times after the first occasion, always in the scout hall.
“I would usually end up crying and he would stop at that point," the witness said.
He told the jury that Finnegan once encouraged him to steal underwear or tights from his mother. He said that he stole a pair of white stockings and that Finnegan made him put them on before masturbating himself to the point of ejaculation over them while the youngster was still wearing them.
The court also heard the witness describe an incident he claims happened in woods near his home, involving another of the complainants. On this occasion, which the witness claims was when he was about 12, he said Finnegan took him and a younger boy of about eight or nine into the woods where he engaged them in three-way masturbation and oral sex. Incidents of abuse said to have happened in a red van driven by Finnegan were also described to the court, as well as an incident in Derramore Woods.
The witness described his dread, brought on by the AIDS Awareness television campaign of the time, that he may have contracted the condition. He said that a mixture of fear and disgust had kept him quiet and that it was the birth of his daughter in 2003 that "triggered a reliving in my mind and made me realise the significance and the impact of what had happened to me as a child."
The witness told the court that he suffered a nervous breakdown in 2005 and was admitted to Daisy Hill Hospital several times, causing the end of his career. It was after this, the witness claimed, that he sought counselling "to address the demons in my head".
“It was this counselling that gave me the strength to finally go to the police," he added.
During cross-examination, defence pointed out discrepancies between the evidence given by the witness at this and the aborted trial, as well as between his fresh evidence and his initial written account of his case and statements to police.
The witness was accused of deliberately changing some of his evidence so it would "dovetail" with the evidence of another of the complainants. It was also put to him that he has concocted all events and that, as Finnegan is maintaining, no sexual abuse ever occurred - an assertion adamantly refuted by the witness.
The trial continues.
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