May 2022

Ex-bookie in Waterford found guilty of sexually abusing boy

A retired bookmaker has been found guilty of the indecent assault of a teenage boy 40 years ago in Waterford.

The victim, then aged 15, was assaulted multiple times weekly over a period of six months at the betting office in John Street, Waterford City by the man, who he worked alongside in the early 1980s.

Thomas “Terry” Cummins, from Hawthorne Grove, Hillview and formerly of Cork Road, denied the accusations, but a jury of seven men and five women were unanimous in finding the 82-year-old guilty of all 12 counts of indecent assault on Thursday.

It is the second time Mr Cummins has been convicted of abusing a young teenage boy. The court heard the accused had pleaded guilty and been convicted in 2002 for sexual offences against a 13-year-old in the betting office in the 1980s.

State prosecutor Conor O’Doherty said Mr Cummins had “groomed and coerced” his victim in the latest case, describing the matter as “shocking” but which “shines a light into a dark corner, illuminated by [the victim’s] willingness to come forward” almost 40 years later.

The victim told the Circuit Criminal Court that he took up work as a 15-year-old in the betting office, where the older man encouraged him to take up gambling, leading him to soon find himself in debt to the man 25 years his senior.

He recalled Mr Cummins one day telling him: “I think there’s other ways of paying that money”, adding he wanted to watch the 15-year-old masturbate.

The victim said he was scared but agreed. He said Mr Cummins would assault him “twice a week, sometimes three times a week” over the future months, which included performing oral sex on the boy.

The victim said the accused later tried to introduce a second man to take part in the assaults, but he refused and later got work elsewhere.

The 2002 conviction

Evidence from the 2002 case was allowed to be heard by the jury as defence counsel for Mr Cummins, Colman Cody SC, said the current case arose because an alleged “blackmail” attempt by the victim against Mr Cummins did not succeed after it was discovered he paid compensation to his victim from the earlier case.

That victim addressed the jury via video link, telling them the offences also happened in the early 1980s, outlining that the abuse progressed to anal sex and that, later, a second man took part in the assaults.

State prosecuting barrister, Conor O’Doherty, said the current case could not have been motivated by blackmail, as the victim in the current case had disclosed he had been sexually abused by a co-worker to a former girlfriend in 1987, and later decided to proceed with the court case after receiving counselling with the HSE in 2017.

Mr O’Doherty told the jury that the methods employed for both victims were “strikingly similar” and that Mr Cummins had also “manipulated” his own brother who owned the betting office and who the court heard was unaware of the abuse.

Both victims – now in their 50s – said they developed gambling addictions as a result of the abuse, with the man in this week’s case saying his life was “destroyed” by gambling, but that his financial position had stabilised in recent years and now his wife handles all financial arrangements.

They denied ever having contact with each other except for brief conversations in betting offices in past decades. Mr Cummins was remanded in custody until June 15 prior to sentencing.