A survivor of abuse at the hands of a convicted Mayo sex offender who died in prison while awaiting sentence for offences against four children has told a court she hopes he rots in hell.
Michael Golden (73) of Crosspatrick, Killala, Co Mayo was convicted unanimously by a jury following a Central Criminal Court trial last month of seven counts of indecent assault, four counts of sexual assault and nine counts of oral rape against four children on dates between 1980 and 1997.
The children were aged between five and 14 years old at the time he abused them. Golden had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The court heard Golden passed away in custody on June 6th, 2022. Ronan Kennedy SC, prosecuting, said that was under investigation and there would be a coroner’s inquest in due course.
Right to be heard
Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring extended her condolences to Golden’s family and friends noting any person was more than the acts for which they were criminally liable but said his death did not extinguish the women’s rights. “Clearly these women have the right to be heard,” she said.
Ms Justice Ring noted the women had thanked the gardaí who supported them, but said the gardaí would not have been able to investigate unless people came forward. She said it was only the fact they had spoken up that the process had come to this stage.
She said in explaining the sentencing process that would normally take place that it was likely there would have been a custodial term of some significance. “But we have all been put in a position where that final step can’t be imposed,” she said.
Uncle supposed to protect her
The first woman outlined in her victim impact statement how she was glad they had got justice and wanted the truth to come out but after learning of Golden’s death she felt her uncle had taken the easy way out. “I hope he rots in hell,” she wrote.
She said Golden, who she said was supposed to protect her, had used her for his own personal sexual gratification and covered it up for years, making it out to be harmless fun.
She said the abuse still impacted her daily life and although she knows she did nothing wrong and was just a child, she still felt guilty for not reporting it. “Staying quiet enabled him to continue abusing which is something I have to live with,” she said.
She said the investigation and trial had been a hugely stressful emotional rollercoaster, describing how she felt the process had been dragged out with a fitness to be tried hearing.
‘Pathetic vile being’
She said she thought she would celebrate the guilty verdict but said there had been no celebrations just a night of tears before pulling herself together knowing no one had really won. She said she could move forward knowing he would not abuse anyone again.
The second woman outlined in her victim impact statement how Golden had shown no regret or sympathy and pulled “stunt after stunt” to delay the trial. She said she was delighted the state had seen through his games and lies and prison had felt like justice.
“But he could not take his medicine,” she said, describing him as a “pathetic vile being.”
“Michael Golden ruined so many lives and won’t even serve his time,” she said. She said his manipulation ran deep, but he is finally seen for the “disgusting paedophile” he is.
A third woman, who had been in foster care in Golden’s home, described how she continues to suffer the effects of the abuse and is triggered by phrases Golden used such as “our little secret” and “good girl”.
She said the case had been on her mind 24/7 since she made her complaint in 2013 and she was frustrated and angry at the delays in the process. She told how emotionally, physically and mentally draining the trial process was, but said she had to tell her story “for the little girl in me.”
She said she was annoyed Golden had put them all through hell and delayed the process. She said it was unfortunate he would not be here for sentencing but hopes now justice has been served she can move on.
She thanked the gardaí and victim support, as well as the other injured parties for coming forward.
“I hope this give other victims the courage to come forward,” she said.
Few mitigating factors
The final complainant, who was also in foster care in the Golden home, outlined how she continues to be impacted on a daily basis by the abuse and the trauma arising from it. She said she feels in some ways she now has her life back and hopes from today to put this ordeal behind her.
Ms Justice Ring explained that in the normal course of events she would have heard submissions, and a plea in mitigation from Golden’s legal team, as well as looking at reports and letters.
She said in looking at this case the mitigating factors were few and the aggravating factors many.
She said if Golden had survived and come to court he would have been returned to custody for a significant period of time. “I say this just so you can draw the line under the process as far as you can in this kind of case”, Ms Justice Ring told the women.
She noted this could only be of small comfort to them as society had come to understand the permanent damage done to victims of childhood sexual abuse and that they would be dealing with the effects long after the prison sentence.
Ms Justice Ring wished the women well and reminded them the gardaí could only do their job if people come forward.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800 77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help.
In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.