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John McClean, former teacher at Terenure College, to serve 12 years total imprisonment
Coleman Legal LLP
Mar 3, 2023

John McClean was back in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court last Friday for sentencing after he plead guilty to over 20 counts of abusing former students of Terenure College between 1971 and 1992. Earlier this year, McClean had pleaded guilty to four counts of indecently assaulting two former students in the 1980s.

The total of 27 counts were to be considered for sentencing by Judge Martin Nolan, the 4 counts relating to two boys in the 1980s and the further 23 counts of abusing 20 boys at the college between 1971 and 1992.

The Gardaí have stated that they are aware of more than 40 victims who have already come forward with allegations of abuse against the former teacher. When the allegations were originally put to McClean he told the Gardaí that while he had no recollection of any of the incidents, bar one, he could see no reason as to why the men would make a false complaint.

McClean is currently serving an 11-year sentence which was handed down to him in 2021, owing to his 96 previous convictions, all for indecent and sexual assault of young boys under the age of 18 who attended Terenure College. Four more years were added to his sentence last Friday. This addition will see him remain in prison until 2030.    

Victims were given a chance to have their voices heard prior to McClean’s sentencing last week. On Thursday, Judge Nolan was presented with a number of victim impact statements presented in person and through a video link.

McClean was present in the room during this, and it is reported he sat with his head in his hands throughout. McClean was an English teacher and school rugby coach at Terenure College from 1966 – 1996. He used these positions to gain access to the young victims.

Victims described how he would lure them to his office under the guise of examining sporting injuries. McClean’s office was a small, windowless room where he would perform “physiotherapy” on the young students.

McClean would be involved in the running of school plays, and at such rehearsals, he would take victims down to a room only he had the key to, that was under the concert hall.

Victims described how he would take advantage of his position by molesting them during costume fittings. McClean tended to prey on young children who he thought were in vulnerable positions, and therefore less likely to report the abuse.

One victim spoke about how he was groomed by McClean following his father’s terminal cancer diagnosis.

Another victim spoke about his struggles with mental health after being abused by McClean at age 14.

He described how he had “wanted to die” and that he became so miserable that he later tried to take his own life.

One man concluded his victim impact statement by directly addressing McClean: “May you and your sort rot in hell for eternity. You are a monster.” 

The victim further stated how those in positions of authority within the school had looked the other way, and it was clear they knew what McClean was up to but never spoke up. An instance of abuse where a third party was present was described by one victim who told how the other man in the room at the time seemed to “pretend not to notice”.

McClean had written an apology, which his counsel read out to the court before Judge Mahon handed down his sentence. McClean’s apology was directed at all those involved, their parents, the school and to his own family and friends.

McClean’s counsel concluded by asking Judge Nolan to consider three mitigating factors in his sentencing: McClean’s age, the fact he is suffering from cancer and that he is already serving a sentence. Many former students of the school were present in the CCJ on Friday for McClean’s sentencing.

Judge Nolan extended his sympathies to all 22 victims in the case, he stated that McClean had abused his position of power and that he should have been stopped but was not.

Judge Nolan spoke of the long-term effects the abuse has had on his victims – many had to deal with mental health struggles, relationship and intimacy issues, and battles with alcohol and drug abuse. In deciding how much time would be extended to McClean’s current sentence, Judge Nolan noted that the original sentence would expire in February 2027 and stated that four more years should be added, without suspension.

He noted that the sentence would have been longer if McClean had not already been serving a pre-existing sentence. The addition to his sentence will see him serve 12 years imprisonment.

Keith Rolls Partner Coleman Legal LLP

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