Foster Carer Jailed For Sexually Abusing Boys

A PERTH foster carer who preyed on teenage boys was jailed for eight years and three months at the High Court in Paisley yesterday. Paulnacha O’Mairthini subjected four boys to a catalogue of sexual abuse and attacks over a period of more than six years.

The 42-year-old, who was formally employed as a foster carer by Perth and Kinross Council, had previously pleaded guilty to three charges of acting in a lewd and libidinous manner between January 1993 and November 1999.

He also admitted two charges of indecent assault and one of failing to appear for trial.

In addition to working as a foster carer, O’Mairthini also helped local voluntary groups, worked at a Perthshire activity centre and coached a youngsters’ football team.

And during a spell living in Orkney he managed a family centre encompassing a residential children’s unit.

All of the sexual attacks admitted by O’Mairthini happened at his then homes in Allison Crescent and Ashgrove, Perth.

Sentencing judge Lady Dorrian said, “These are serious charges of abuse.

“You were in a position of trust and you abused that trust.

“In passing sentence I must take into account and reflect the risk you pose of re-offending, which is regarded as being at the very least moderate.”

Lady Dorrian said she must also reflect the fact O’Mairthini attempted to escape ahead of his scheduled trial at the High Court in Perth earlier this year.

“You absconded from justice at a time when you were still maintaining pleas of not guilty,” she said.

“However, I must also take account of the fact you eventually pleaded guilty before your victims had to give evidence.”

A warrant was issued for O’Mairthini’s arrest after he failed to appear in Perth and he was subsequently traced in his native Ireland.

He was returned to Scotland and the High Court in Glasgow then heard how the accused befriended his first victim in the early 1990s when the boy was 11.

The abuse began when the youngster was 14 and continued regularly at the accused’s home in Perth until he was 18 and told O’Mairthini he wanted it to stop.

He also abused two other boys, sometimes showing them pornographic films.

He attacked his fourth victim after meeting him at a wedding reception between December 1998 and November 1999.

The male, aged 17, had gone back to O’Mairthini’s home and stayed overnight after feeling unwell.

The accused fled after being allowed bail prior to his scheduled appearance in Perth.

He was ordered to surrender his passport as part of his bail conditions but absconded to Ireland.

O’Mairthini was captured and handed over to Tayside police in July.

Defending solicitor Tim Niven-Smith said yesterday the accused was realistic and accepted that jail was “inevitable.”

“The accused is a first offender and he has now grown up—he is substantially more mature than he was at the time of these offences,” he added.

“Reports put before the court show a number of positive features. He has shown genuine remorse and has not attempted to minimise his involvement in these matters.

“By pleading guilty he has publicly accepted his responsibility and he is prepared to work at addressing his offending behaviour.”

Mr Niven-Smith said O’Mairthini now accepted he would not be able to work with children on his release from jail, despite his past employment and the fact he attained various degrees in social work and social science.

O’Mairthini’s name has been added to the sex offenders’ register.

Perth and Kinross Council issued a statement, pointing out the authority had assisted police in their inquiries. A spokeswoman also defended their selection process for appointing foster carers.

“The actions of this individual only came to light after he had left the Perth and Kinross area.

“The council provided all possible assistance to the police investigation in order to bring the person concerned to justice.

“We have robust and rigorous procedures in place for assessment and selection of foster carers and for child protection to ensure the safety and well-being of young people needing to be looked after.”

O’Mairthini—sometimes known as Pol Nacha O’Mairthini—moved to Scotland in 1990 and was approved as a foster carer after what he later termed “a more than vigorous if not comprehensive” 18-month long assessment period.

He talked of his work with children as being hugely rewarding, saying he wanted to “share his life for the benefit of others.”

The full list of charges admitted by Paulnacha O’Mairthini are:

On various occasions between January 1, 1994, and December 31, 1995, both dates inclusive, at a house in Allison Crescent, Perth, he used lewd, indecent and libidinous practices and behaviour toward a boy then aged between 14 and 15.

On various occasions between December 19, 1995, and December 19, 1997, both dates inclusive, at a house in Allison Crescent, Perth, he showed a youth pornographic films and sexually assaulted him.

On various occasions between January 1, 1993, and July 30, 1997, both dates inclusive, in homes at Allison Crescent and Ashgrove, Perth, he used lewd, indecent and libidinous practices and behaviour toward a boy aged between 11 and 15.

On an occasion between December 1, 1998, and November 30, 1999, both dates inclusive, at a house in Allison Crescent, Perth, he sexually assaulted a youth.

On various occasions between September 19, 1995, and September 18, 1996, both dates inclusive, at houses in Allison Crescent and Ashgrove, Perth, he used lewd, indecent and libidinous practices and behaviour toward a boy aged 15.

On April 1, 2008, at High Court in Perth, he failed to appear for trial.