A PENSIONER who kissed and licked the face of an eight-year-old boy sitting on a bench in Clonakilty described it as a ‘stupid incident’, but the boy’s mother called it an ‘ugly, dark chapter in his young and innocent life’ and a ‘gross attack.’
Michael Hurley (71) of 2 Tawnies Upper, Clonakilty pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to carrying out the sexual assault and he was sentenced to nine months in prison.
He had similar convictions for two similar assaults from around 15 years ago. Sergeant Gordon Crowley said the boy’s mother was in the pharmacy and her son was sitting on the bench outside when she heard a kind of scream and cry from her son like she had never heard before.
She came out and ran after the elderly man. She was assisted by another person from the pharmacy and Michael Hurley agreed to remain at the scene.
As soon as Sgt Crowley approached, the pensioner made an immediate admission: ‘I touched and kissed the young fella – stupid incident by me.’
The boy’s mother said – in a victim impact statement – that this man had grossly attacked her son and damaged his confidence.
She said her son was now reluctant about any family visits to Clonakilty and was wary of elderly men. She said in a victim statement, read out by Sgt Crowley, that when she asks her son to get an item from a supermarket shelf he is not keen to go any distance from her side.
However, she expressed confidence that he would overcome this with family support.
Emmet Boyle, defence barrister, said Michael Hurley worked all his life, never married, and lived in isolation in squalid conditions.
Mr Boyle said the accused was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for acute care after he was found eating food off the shelves of a supermarket.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said: ‘Therapeutically, there is nothing available for him. This is a fella living in communal isolation in West Cork and no one knows what to do with him. He has worked all his life and there is no one to assist him.
‘He caused this boy and indeed his mother enormous distress.
‘It is difficult to understand what he did socially and difficult to understand it on a sexual basis.’
The judge said he was not going to impose a partially suspended sentence, as the accused had been given a suspended sentence before and it had not worked.