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Chapter 8 — Cappoquin

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Sexual abuse


In the mid-1990s, Mr Restin was arrested in England and charged with three offences of indecent assault on a boy under 16 and with possession of indecent photographs of children. He was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, of which he served nine months. Following his prison sentence, he spent a period of four months in a psychiatric hospital because of depression and then lived in a probation hostel for a further six months. He returned to Dublin in the late 1990s.


An ex-resident of Cappoquin disclosed to his psychiatrist that he had been sexually and physically abused by a number of named individuals, including Mr Restin, whilst in the Institution. He was advised to report the abuse and, in 2000, he made a full statement to the Gardaí.


Mr Restin was interviewed by the Gardaí the following year, and admitted sexually abusing boys in Passage West and Cappoquin. Two years later, he was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment: six years for possession of pornographic material, and two sentences of two years each for indecently assaulting a boy in Cappoquin and a boy in Passage West.


Mr Restin told the Committee that he did not know the identity of the two boys in respect of whom he had pleaded guilty: I am doing two years for a victim in Passage West and I am doing two years for a victim in Cappoquin and I do not know who either of those victims are, at this point ... I pleaded guilty ... I am convinced that whoever they are I ... did abuse them or I wouldn’t have said I did.


Three witnesses gave evidence that Mr Restin sexually abused them in the Industrial School in Cappoquin, and a further two witnesses described being sexually and physically abused by him in Passage West.


Mr Restin was placed with the nuns in Cappoquin at three months of age, where he remained until he was nine and a half years old. He was then transferred to St Patrick’s Industrial School, Upton and was discharged on the day before his sixteenth birthday.


Mr Restin gave evidence that he was subjected to serious sexual abuse whilst in Upton by a Priest and by a Brother.


During his time as a child in Cappoquin and Upton, he was aware of sexual activity among other boys and he also became involved. He said it was not widespread but it went on.


He became a nurse because he realised he had a problem forming relationships with adults, and thought he might be able to resolve these difficulties through his nursing vocation.


After four years’ training, he qualified as a nurse and, on one occasion, was sent on special duty to attend a patient who needed treatment in hospital in Cork. At that time, a young resident of Passage West Industrial School was in the hospital where he spent approximately one month. Mr Restin befriended the boy and got to meet the Resident Manager of Passage West, Sr Vita,26 who regularly visited the hospital. When the boy left hospital and returned to Passage West, Mr Restin began to visit Passage West at weekends, when he would spend time there, play ball with the children and occasionally have a meal with the nuns in their dining room. He said that the Resident Manager was aware of his medical training and that she also knew he was an ex-Cappoquin resident.


After some months, the Sisters in Passage West offered him a job, at first mainly as a driver. He said the job was better paid than nursing, the hours were more flexible and he was provided with accommodation.


He unsuccessfully applied for leave of absence from his nursing job, so continued to be employed as a nurse whilst also working in Passage West.


Mr Restin agreed with the suggestion that the moves to Passage West and subsequently to Cappoquin might have been deliberate, to gain access to young boys. He admitted that he sexually abused a number of boys – he recalled around five in Passage West, but he denied ever forcing any boys to engage in oral sex, as had been alleged. He described how he had a routine, and that oral sex was not part of it. He also denied that he had ever raped boys, and he told the Committee the reason: I suppose the fact that I was raped myself, it was something that I found extremely offensive and it is something I have never done.


Mr Restin admitted abusing one of the complainants who gave evidence about abuse in Passage West.


The complainant was admitted to Passage West in the early 1970s. When his mother died in the late 1960s, he became involved in petty crime and he was committed by the District Court to Passage West until he was aged 16.

  1. Dr Anna McCabe was the Department of Education Inspector for most of the relevant period.
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  21. This is a pseudonym. Sr Lorenza later worked in St. Joseph’s Industrial School, Kilkenny. See St Joseph’s Industrial School, Kilkenny chapter.
  22. Mother Carina.
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