A JUDGE branded a paedophile who sexually abused a girl over a five-year period as a “dangerous offender” as he gave him an extended prison term.

Thomas O’Halloran, of Duke Street, St Helens, was sentenced on Thursday afternoon at Liverpool Crown Court.

The 74-year-old appeared via video link for the hearing during which his victim read a statement to the court of the impact his offending had on her.

Prosecuting barrister, Cheryl Mottram told the court that O’Halloran had been convicted after a trial of six counts, including offences of sexual assault of a child under 13 and causing a child to engage in sexual activity.

Ms Mottram told the court that the 74-year-old defendant had previous convictions for exposure in 1985, and in 2021 he received 12 months imprisonment for sexual communication with a child in 2021, which postdates these offences.

Reading a statement to the courtroom, his victim said that “I was too scared to tell anyone in case they didn’t believe me. I was a quiet child and I felt anxious all the time.”

She added: “I was very withdrawn and this didn’t go unnoticed, since the abuse it was unbearable”.

She spoke of her “lost childhood” adding “I wonder how I would have been if I’d never been” subject to “this abuse”.  

Defending, Stella Hayden, that in mitigation O’Halloran is 74 and has “complex medical issues” which will make a jail sentence “all the more onerous” and asked for a “determinate sentence” to be passed.

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However, judge Stuart Driver KC said he had “no hesitation” in finding O’Halloran to be a “dangerous offender” and passed an extended sentence, meaning he must serve at least two-thirds of his term in custody, rather than half.

Judge Driver said he “had no doubt” that O’Halloran’s victim “suffered a very significant degree of psychological harm”.

He added to the defendant: “There are aggravating factors, the number of offences, the period of time but also your record, you have convictions for sexual offences both before and after these incidents happened.”

Judge Driver said: “I have no hesitation in finding that you are a dangerous offender, there is a significant risk that you will cause serious harm by committing further offences”.

St Helens Star: Liverpool Crown CourtLiverpool Crown Court (Image: St Helens Star)

He said O’Halloran “represents such a significant risk an extended sentence is necessary to protect members of the public from that risk.”

O’Halloran was given a 13-year sentence, consisting of nine years in custody and a four-year extended licence period.

He was also given two concurrent three-year terms and a concurrent four-year sentence.

The defendant must serve at least two-thirds of the nine-year period in prison.

The judge also imposed a restraining order for O’Halloran not to contact his victim and a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for life.