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Victim speaks out: ‘Sexual offences are the next most horrific crime to murder’

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A VICTIM who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a predatory teacher has waived his legal right to anonymity to highlight the impact the offending has had on his life.

Daren O'Toole (26013280)

Daren O’Toole told the JEP that giving evidence in the trial of Christopher Roy Bacon in 2017 was ‘agonising’ and the pain was amplified by the fact he was cross-examined by the defendant, who was representing himself. Bacon was eventually found guilty of seven counts of indecent assault and one count of procuring an act of gross indecency.

Laws have now been changed banning defendants from cross-examining witnesses. Mr O’Toole gave evidence to Scrutiny panels and former Home Affairs Minister Kristina Moore in the lead-up to changes to the Criminal Procedures (Jersey) Law 2018 being made.

And the 52-year-old also criticised the way the original investigation into Bacon was handled in the 1980s.

The-then St Helier Boys teacher made frank admissions to police officers that he enjoyed ‘groping’ and ‘getting intimate’ with pupils. Detectives questioned the now 77-year-old at that time after they saw a message about his crimes scrawled on a blackboard.

Despite Bacon’s admissions at the time and a statement from Mr O’Toole the then-Attorney General recommended Bacon was dealt with at a parish hall inquiry.

Bacon was yesterday jailed for a second time in less than three years after admitting a further five counts of indecent assault against four boys. He was sentenced to two years in prison, which will run consecutively to his previous 5½-year sentence.

After the verdict, which related to victims that came forward after the publicity of the the first trial in 2017, Mr O’Toole said: ‘It’s what I expected. It’s not long enough but it’s what I expected.

‘I think there should be mandatory minimum sentences for any sexual offences. It is the next most horrific crime to murder and the minimum sentence for that is life.’

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A petition calling for sex offenders to be placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life was voted down in the States earlier this year.

Mr O’Toole added: ‘It was shocking the way the police handled it in the 80s. They took a one-page statement from me and that was it. When I came forward in 2015 the statement was 11 pages. Policing has moved on so much they have specially trained officers now.

‘It never occurred to me at the time I was a victim [that there would be other victims] and I thought I was the only one this was happening to. It’s not the sort of thing you talk to other people about.’

The Islander says he has suffered from depression as a result of Bacon’s crimes and struggles, to this day, to trust people.

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‘The trial [in 2017] was agonising. It was all a blur. I was trying to remember things that happened decades ago and he was coming out with all this stuff that the police had planted false memories in my head.’

In a statement, Detective Sergeant David Hill, who leads the States police’s historic abuse team, said Bacon was a ‘prolific sex offender’ who ‘abused his position of authority and trust to satisfy his desires’.

‘It takes remarkable courage for victims of this type of abuse to come forward and relive such traumatic events,’ he said. ‘It is why we are so committed to listening to the victims, supporting them and thoroughly investigating their cases. When wrong has been done we will do all that we can to secure the conviction of those committing these devastating crimes.’

To contact the States police call 612612 or for for help contact Dewberry House, the Island’s sexual assault referral centre, on 888222.

Jack Maguire

By Jack Maguire
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