Former Scout’s jail term is up for appeal

Colin Finnegan.
Colin Finnegan.

Victims of paedophile Colin Finnegan, a former scout master, have welcomed the decision by the Public Prosecution Service to appeal the length of his jail sentence.

Finnegan, who is from Bessbrook but who had lived in Sloan Hill Mews, Lurgan prior to his trial, was sentenced to 11 years in jail last November for a total of 59 sex abuse charges against four young boys over a 16-year period.

The appeal is set to be heard in Belfast High Court on February 7. A PPS spokeswoman confirmed it was appealing against sentence in terms of undue leniency.

She said: “The Director of the Public Prosecution Service, Barra McGrory QC, exercising his powers under the Criminal Justice Act 1988, has asked the Court of Appeal to review the sentence in this case on the grounds that it is unduly lenient.”

The appeal to review the sentence comes within the 28-day time limit from the day the sentence was imposed.

It is further understood that Finnegan has not lodged an appeal against his sentence.

One of Finnegan’s victims contacted the Lurgan Mail to reveal that the sentence was to be appealed and that he was “over the moon” about the news.

“The appeal is worth it even if Finnegan only spends one more day in jail,” said the man, who asked not to be named out of consideration to his wife and young family.

“Someone like that should never be allowed out again. He was sentenced to 11 years as the judge felt that he had been young himself at the time and claimed that he too was sexually abused but when we added it up, it could have been 100 years for all the charges.

“But to be sentenced to 11 years and get out in five is not enough.” He added that he and the other victims would have been more satisfied with a 19-year sentence.

At sentencing the Crown Court judge told Finnegan, it was “chilling to note you still maintain your denials and consider yourself the victim”.

He said this “stance has exacerbated the damage” caused to his four known victims.