Mr Restin was a childcare worker in Cappoquin in the late 1970s. He had previously been employed by the Sisters of Mercy in another of their industrial schools in Passage West, County Cork, during the mid-1970s.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Soon after he arrived in Passage West, he came across Mr Restin. Initially, he thought he was friendly. The sexual abuse started soon after meeting him and continued until Mr Restin left the Institution. He was forced to engage in mutual masturbation and, after his first experience, he initially tried to avoid contact with Mr Restin by trying to keep a low profile and staying out of his way. This did not work and the abuse continued on a regular basis in a variety of locations in the Institution. He always felt under threat of a beating or punishment if he did not co-operate with Mr Restin. He then began absconding from Passage West. On one occasion, one of the nuns and Mr Restin came to the Garda Station to bring him back to the School and, when they got back, they gave him a severe beating with a stick. Another time, when he was on a visit home, his father noticed marks on his body from a beating. He told his father that Mr Restin had beaten him, and his father planned to confront Mr Restin when he called to collect him after the weekend to bring him back to Passage West. Some form of altercation took place, and it required the intervention of the Resident Manager and her assistant, before his father agreed to allow him to return to the School. He did not tell his family about the sexual abuse at the time.
Some time later, he realised that Mr Restin was abusing others. He began to notice signs as boys emerged eating sweets, having spent some time with Mr Restin. He and two other boys went to the Resident Manager, Sr Vita, in her room and told her what Mr Restin was doing. She seemed sympathetic and asked them to name the boys who were being abused. He named about 12 to 15 boys, and the other boys named a few. He was called to her room later that evening, where the boys he had named were lined up. The Manager asked them in turn if Mr Restin was ‘doing stuff’ to them, and all the boys except for one denied it. The witness and the other boy who confirmed the abuse were taken to the hall and given beatings, which were so severe that the other boy was injured and required stitches. The witness absconded a few days later with two other boys. He thought that he was not caught for about two and half weeks and did not recall being punished, which he felt was because the Resident Manager was well aware of why he ran away. Mr Restin did not bother him after that, and he could not remember when Mr Restin left Passage West.
Mr Restin had to engage in protracted correspondence with his employers as he sought leave from the hospital where he worked to attend the childcare course in Kilkenny. This leave was finally granted in the early 1970s, but he did not attend the course either in the year the leave was granted or the following year.
The records show that in one particular academic year 19 persons attended the Kilkenny childcare course instead of the usual 20, and Mr Restin was not one of them. It appears that his application was blocked as a result of an unfavourable response given by Sr Vita to a query made by a Department of Education official in reference to Mr Restin’s suitability for the post.
Another complainant who gave evidence recalled the arrival of Mr Restin. His memory was that one of the pupils was not well and went to hospital. On his return, Mr Restin was with him. He understood he was a nurse and was there to attend to medical issues. He fell off a bicycle and hurt his testicles and sustained a number of bruises in that area. He went to see Mr Restin who brought him into his cubicle off the dormitory. He applied cream to the affected area. Mr Restin then undressed and told the complainant to masturbate him, which he did. Mr Restin then gave him sweets and told him to keep quiet. The witness said that he had to masturbate Mr Restin in this way on several occasions.
He said that Mr Restin raped him on three occasions. The first time, it happened in a field to which Mr Restin had driven him. The second was in Mr Restin’s cubicle in the dormitory, and the third in an old disused train carriage in the school grounds. He said Mr Restin punched and beat him on the back during one rape. After the last occasion, he did everything in his power to avoid Mr Restin, by staying close to the other boys and his brothers. He said he then built up courage to go to the head nun in the convent, which was separate from the School. He said he told her at the front entrance to the convent that Mr Restin was sexually abusing him. She told him to go back to the School and she would speak to somebody about it. Some time later, Sr Vita called him and accused him of spreading wicked lies and gave him a severe beating. Soon after this, Mr Restin left.