Noctor v Ireland

JudgeFinnegan P.
Judgment Date01 March 2005
Neutral Citation[2005] IEHC 50
CourtHigh Court
Docket Number[1996 No. 3286 P]




and by Order
and by Order

[2005] IEHC 50





Compensatory damages - Exemplary damages - Aggravated damages -Appropriate level of damages - Relationship between categories of damages - Plaintiff sexually abused at industrial school - No early admission of liability by defendants -Whether aggravated damages should be awarded - Rookes v Barnard [1964] AC 1129and Cooper v O'Connell (Unrep, SC,5/6/1997) followed - Damages of EUR370,000awarded (1996/3286P - Finnegan P -1/3/2005) [2005] IEHC 50, [2005] 1 IR 433

Noctor v Ireland





REDDY v BATES 1983 IR 141

MCINTYRE v LEWIS 1991 1 IR 121


ROOKES v BARNARD 1964 AC 1129 1964 1 AER 347


COOPER v O'CONNELL UNREP SUPREME 5.6.1997 1998/14/4946


Judgment of Finnegan P. delivered on the 1st day of March 2005.


This matter proceeded before me by way of assessment.


The circumstances giving rise to the claim as given in evidence by the Plaintiff are as follows -


The Plaintiff was born on the 2 nd April 1959 in Carlow. He was one of fourteen children two of whom died as infants and came eighth in his family. His mother died at the age of 43 when he was some seven years of age leaving him to the care of his father who was some twenty years older than his mother. By Order of the District Court made on the 18 th October 1967 the Plaintiff was committed to St. Joseph's Industrial School Kilkenny on the grounds of being found having a parent who did not exercise proper guardianship. The Plaintiff's younger brother was also committed to St. Joseph's Industrial School. Initially the Plaintiff resided in that part of the school known as St. Teresa's. He describes the treatment while in St. Teresa's as "pretty good". Occasionally he received a slap but nothing severe. Having reached the age of twelve he was transferred to another part of the school known as Summerhill, a separate building. Summerhill had previously been a school but was transformed into living quarters for older boys for whom education within St. Joseph's was discontinued the boys being sent to ordinary schools and in the Plaintiff's case firstly to the De la Salle School and then to the local technical school. The House Master at Summerhill was David Murray. Prior to the transfer to Summerhill the Plaintiff was interviewed by Mr. Murray and in the course of that interview he was shown a handbook with naked people as I understand it to explain the facts of life. However during the interview Mr. Murray put his hands on the Plaintiff's penis and commenced rubbing him.


In Summerhill the boys some twelve in number slept in a dormitory which was divided into cubicles some of which were occupied by one boy and others in the case of brothers by two. The boys were of an age between eleven and thirteen years. While attending school outside St. Joseph's they had their meals and did their homework in Summerhill. Mr. Murray's role included helping with homework in the sitting room at Summerhill and organising sports. Mr. Murray had his quarters downstairs in Summerhill. The Plaintiff was assigned a single cubicle being the first one adjacent to the door to the sleeping quarters.


Some weeks after moving to Summerhill the Plaintiff was in the downstairs sitting room when the other boys were directed to go to bed and the Plaintiff was detained by Mr. Murray. Mr. Murray sat beside the Plaintiff and fondled his penis. He then directed the Plaintiff to remove his pyjamas and underwear, masturbated him and directed the Plaintiff to do the same to him. The Plaintiff knew that this was wrong and was very uncomfortable following the incident. Mr. Murray told him not to say anything about the incident to anyone. The incident was repeated shortly thereafter but on this occasion the Plaintiff was required to put Mr. Murray's penis in his mouth and Mr. Murray put the Plaintiff's penis in his mouth. After this occurrence Mr. Murray gave the Plaintiff a big mug of wine and told him to drink it and gave him a Cuban cigar. The Plaintiff was affected by the alcohol.


At the time of the foregoing incidents the Manager of St. Joseph's was Sister Conception. After the second mentioned incident the Plaintiff went to Sister Conception and met with her in her parlour. His evidence is that he told her that David Murray put his hands down his pyjamas and that he did not want him to do that but told her nothing further. Sister Conception's response was to tell him to watch himself.


The next incident occurred when Mr. Murray came to the Plaintiff's cubicle after all the boys in the sleeping area had gone to bed. He woke the Plaintiff and undressed him, removed his own clothes and got into the bed. Mr. Murray attempted anal rape but the Plaintiff successfully resisted. Mr. Murray's hand was over the Plaintiff's mouth. Mr. Murray kissed the Plaintiff on the lips. He ejaculated over the Plaintiff's backside. The Plaintiff was in shock. At this time the Plaintiff was terrified of Mr. Murray. The abuse continued regularly thereafter. On another occasion shortly afterwards Mr. Murray took the Plaintiff to his room and directed him to remove his clothes. When the Plaintiff hesitated he was struck on the ear. The Plaintiff was ordered to lie on the bed which he did. Mr. Murray used a lubricant and anally raped the Plaintiff. Again the Plaintiff was ordered not to tell anyone what had happened. Thereafter the Plaintiff was anally raped two or three times each week mostly in Mr. Murray's room.


From time to time Mr. Murray would take the Plaintiff to the pictures and he would put his coat across the Plaintiff's lap and masturbate him and require the Plaintiff to masturbate him. The boys were taken on holidays from time to time when the abuse continued. Mr. Murray took the Plaintiff to his own home in Dublin where again the Plaintiff was abused. The Plaintiff could recall no time during his stay in Summerhill when he was not being abused.


On one occasion the Plaintiff was taken to Mr. Murray's room and tied to a chair. Mr. Murray then had anal intercourse with him. Mr. Murray then picked up his Alsatian dog, put the dog's front paws on the Plaintiff's back and forced the dog to mount the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff's back was severely scraped.


Following one incident of abuse the Plaintiff was bleeding from his back passage and on his way home from the technical school called to St. Joseph's school doctor. She refused to examine him and sent him back to St. Joseph's. Later that evening Mr. Murray asked the Plaintiff where he had been and struck him across the face with a hurley and broke his nose and gave him a severe beating. Mr. Murray explained the injuries by saying that the Plaintiff fell down the stairs.


Throughout this time he received beatings from Mr. Murray sometimes with a hurley and others with a brush or strap. On many occasions when abusing the Plaintiff Mr. Murray would have his Alsatian dog with him and he would set the dog on the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff was constantly threatened by Mr. Murray not to tell anyone about what was happening. On one occasion late at night when it was raining heavily Mr. Murray took him out to the vegetable garden and made him dig up a cabbage plant: he then told the Plaintiff that if he ever told anyone about the abuse he would end up there and no one would ever find him, that he would kill him and leave him there. The Plaintiff believed this and was terrified.


The Plaintiff said that he informed Sister Conception of the abuse on a number of occasions. On one occasion he told her in the presence of Sergeant John Tuohy and Sergeant Eddie Geraghty in her parlour. Sergeant Tuohy and Sergeant Geraghty at different periods assisted at St. Joseph's on a voluntary basis principally with sports. Their attendance was organised by Sister Conception. The Plaintiff told the meeting that Mr. Murray was feeling his penis and making him do the same to him. A short time later the Plaintiff had a meeting with the Bishop of Ossory Dr. Birch, Sister Conception, Sergeant Tuohy and Sergeant Geraghty at which he told the Bishop about Mr. Murray's conduct. Specifically he told the Bishop that Mr. Murray was feeling his penis and made him do the same to him and that he was doing other things. The Plaintiff also complained to Mr. Buckley the gardener at St. Joseph's about the abuse.


Notwithstanding the complaints the abuse continued and it affected the Plaintiff. He had low self esteem. He was not doing his homework. Mr. Murray would offer to help the Plaintiff with his homework but in fact the homework was never done as Mr. Murray would abuse the Plaintiff. This led to the school sending complaints to Mr. Murray about the Plaintiff's homework and resulted in the Plaintiff being beaten for not doing his homework. The Plaintiff was attending school at the De La Salle in his first two years in Summerhill and for the next two years attended the local technical school. He did very badly at school. Mr. Murray insisted upon him drinking a lot of wine and very often when he went to school he fell asleep. He suffered from hangovers and often felt very sick. The Plaintiff never did any examinations. He can read and write.


When the Plaintiff was approximately fourteen years of age Mr. Murray left Summerhill for a period during which there was another House Master. He regularly beat the boys in Summerhill. When...

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