Swim instructor jailed over child abuse

A former swimming instructor, who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a boy over a four year period, has been jailed for four and a half years at Derry’s Crown Court.

Brendan McGowan , 69 and from Brewster’s Close in the city, pleaded guilty to six charges of indecently assaulting the boy, two charges of committing gross indecency with the boy and one charge of inciting him to commit an act of gross indecency.

The abuse started in September 1989 when the victim was aged 12.

At the time, McGowan was employed by Derry City Council at the City Baths in William Street and at Templemore Sports Complex.

McGowan committed the offences in his then Colmcille Court flat in the Bogside area of the city.

Judge Philip Babington said McGowan, who shared a love of jazz with the boy, “used flattery as well as an element of grooming and seduction to carry out the abuse”.

At one stage, during the abuse, he said to the boy: “I thought you knew I was gay.”

Judge Babington said McGowan, a gay rights activist who had set up a help line and support group for gay people, had difficulties in accepting responsibility for his behaviour.

He said McGowan was 33 years older than his victim “whom you abused for your own desire” and that he had initiated a course of offending which was particularly unpleasant for his victim.

McGowan will spend eighteen months in jail followed by three years on probation.

When he’s released from jail, he will have to inform the police of his whereabouts for the following ten years.

He has also been disqualified from working with children.