A 10-year-old boy who met a 57-year-old priest through the facebook networking website, before suggesting to the priest perform some kind of sex act on him in a car, walked free from court yesterday with a suspended juvenile jail term.
Benjamin Mackey, of Portlaw, Co Waterford, pleaded guilty at Waterford District Court to a charge of “flirting and then inviting a cleric to engage in a sexual act”.
Mackey had created a fictitious identity (Ben-10) on the facebook site after coming across the web page of his 57-year-old victim online. The boy had advertised that he was 45 and looking to speak to other like-minded males, specifically lonely priests in their mid-late fifties.
When Mackey saw the priests profile on-line, he cleverly disguised himself to look older and then took a picture and uploaded it unto his Facebook profile page.
Fr. James Morrissey stated in court that he had no idea that ‘Ben-10’ was lying about his age.
“His hair was combed over like he was going bald. He looked genuine enough to me.” said the man of God.
After several weeks of communicating, Mackey, who was by this stage grooming the priest, exchanged mobile phone numbers, and both agreed to meet up after Mackey finished school at 2pm the next day
On November 22nd, 2010, Mackey met his victim in a wooded area outside of his home town.
Mackey then began to stroke his own leg, pretending he was cold, before asking the priest to ‘close his window’.
“Even though I’m a priest, I knew what that meant. I was scared stiff! I had no choice but to do as he said.”
Suddenly the priests housekeeper, who had been out looking for cleric, came upon the scene and ended the ordeal.
The child made a run for it but was later arrested by Gardai and admitted everything.
“I’m hungry. I want to go home. Wheres mammy?” Mackey told gardai.
Superintendent Terrence Butler stated that the child was very manipulative in the interview.
“He was trying everything he could to fool us. Some of the detectives had to stop at times because the child was getting into their heads.
“He was crying. Calling for his mother and trembling. To the untrained mind he is very convincing.
“What we’re dealing with here is a highly intelligent sociopath with uncontrollable sexual urges.” he said.
A victim impact statement read to the court told how the priest had attended a psychotherapist and had become”terrified of using the Internet”, and that he “found it hard to thrust little people anymore”.
Judge Paul Hanley said Mackey had preyed on older and vulnerable men.
“Who knows how long this child has been trapping older men like this. I hope that this case gives courage to does who lay silent.” he said.
However, Judge Hanley said that because of the child’s age he cannot pass a custodial sentence.
He imposed an eight-year suspended jail term and ordered banned the child from ever using a computer or mobile phone ever again. He was also ordered to put all of his lunch and pocket money into the local church collection box for the next ten years.