NO CRIME TOO EVIL FOR BAIL; Child Abuse, Rape, Murder, Even Genocide.There's No Crime So Serious That It Does Not Qualify for Bail in Ireland. Why Will Judges Not Stop This Madness?

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Byline: by John O'Keeffe

PICTURE the scene if you will. A man attempts to abduct your child in the middle of the night and, thankfully, gets caught. No one can appreciate the terror that must exist when, as a parent, you see a man attempting to walk away with your injured child out of your own home.

At least however, on this occasion, he is caught - presumably never to be let do such a thing again, let alone commit an even more heinous crime.

That's right isn't it? Gerry McGrath entered a family home in Dundrum in Co. Tipperary at about 3.30 on the morning of October 9 2007. He made his entry through a back door which was unlocked, went upstairs and looked into a number of the bedrooms before going into the room of a fiveyear-old girl. Then, according to the Garda report, McGrath put his hand around the young child's throat and squeezed her, thereby stopping her from crying.

Alerted to the danger by now, the child's mother ran after him and McGrath then ran into the front room of the family home and threw the little girl onto a couch. Her husband then subdued the man while his wife rang the gardai. The Garda statement was telling.

'He told us that his intention when he saw the child in the bedroom was to take the child out of the house,' it read. 'He didn't say what he intended to do when he got her out of the house.'

Medical evidence adduced in court showed that the little girl had burst blood vessels in her face 'as a result of being choked', and had a bruise to her left ear.

McGrath's defence lawyer - without a hint of irony - said that his client had had 'problems' as a child and didn't get on well in school.


Now you might have thought that any self-respecting judge would have heard the case and remanded such an accused back to custody immediately.

After all, here was, at the very least, a child abductor who had left it open as to what he would have done with the child had he not been caught red-handed. That's right - please remember that McGrath was caught red-handed trying to abduct a child and his brief's defence was that he did not get on well in school.

In addition to the attempted child abduction, McGrath had also recently assaulted a female taxi driver and had already been remanded in custody on a number of occasions. Now, despite desperate efforts by the gardai in opposing bail, Judge Tom O'Donnell, on October 30, 2007 at Limerick District Court, released McGrath on bail.

Five weeks later, while still on bail, Gerry McGrath totally destroyed an entire family by murdering an innocent mother when he took Sylvia Roche- Kelly's life in a Limerick hotel, beating her so savagely that her blonde hair was all that her husband recognised when called upon to identify his wife's broken body.

Last month McGrath pleaded guilty to her murder and was given a life sentence.

Sylvia Roche-Kelly would be alive today had this savage not been released on bail after the attempted child abduction. Her two young children would still have a mother.

Yet, to hear Mr Roche-Kelly on RTE radio yesterday morning was to listen to a lesson in dignity and despair all at once.

Why was this man released on bail was his simple question? Lorcan Roche-Kelly is on record as saying that by releasing McGrath on bail, the State 'gave him freedom which he used as an opportunity to murder Sylvia' and that the impact of the killing on those who had already suffered at McGrath's hands must have been 'horrific', he said. How right he is. With figures just released by the Central Statistics Office showing a shocking 85 per cent increase over the past four years in crimes committed in this country by those who are on bail, it is time that we woke up to the horror of this problem in our society. …