Man, 86, Who Raped 2 Children Avoids Jail for Being ‘Too Old’

By Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly is a reporter based in Australia. She covers world news with a focus on U.S. news. Contact her at
October 25, 2018 Updated: October 25, 2018

An 86-year-old man who raped two children when they were aged between four and 10, more than 60 years ago, has avoided jail after a judge deemed him too old and ill to serve his sentence.

John Joe Kierman, from Arva in County Cavan in Ireland, pleaded guilty on Oct. 22 to sexually abusing two children—a boy and his younger sister—now in their 60s.

Detective Sergeant Sharon Walsh told the court that in the late 1950s, Kiernan would target the children near or on farmland where he had worked as a labourer. He would regularly abuse them, The Anglo-Celt reported.

Kiernan admitted he had raped the girl in her childhood bedroom. The female victim said he gave her something like whiskey and then raped her as she lay still, feeling as though she was in a trance.

He later threatened to “bury her” after another attack, according to The Journal.

For the male victim, Walsh told the court that he was orally raped by Kiernan on fishing trips. The victim told police: “I never remember being afraid. This was just normal life for me,” Metro UK reported.

The siblings came forward to police in Ireland in 2017 and Kiernan was subsequently arrested.

Justice Michael White said in his ruling that it was not appropriate to jail Kiernan because of his age and poor health. Kiernan is currently housebound with diabetes and heart disease.

White said that if Kiernan was younger, he would have received a serious custodial sentence.

Sentences Suspended, Offender ‘Remorseful’

Kiernan pleaded guilty to six counts of indecently assaulting the boy between 1958 and 1963, and five counts of indecently assaulting the girl between 1959 and 1963.

He was sentenced to eight years for the rape, and five years and two years respectively for the indecent assaults. White suspended all the sentences under the condition that Kiernan “keeps the peace,” according to reports.

White noted that Kiernan had previously served time in prison for indecently assaulting another three boys and one girl, according to The Anglo-Celt. Those assaults occurred sometime between 1963 and 1973.

White also said he accepted that Kiernan was remorseful. Kiernan’s counsel said he had not committed any other offences since marrying his wife in 1974.

When Kiernan was first approached by police about the allegations, Kiernan initially admitted to touching the children but denied assaulting and raping them. He later said that he “wasn’t right in the head then,” and that “I was sex crazed, I didn’t know how to stop,” according to The Anglo-Celt.

Innocence Shattered

The prosecutor told the court that the siblings wanted Kiernan’s name to be published.

The sister said that what Kiernan did to her had shattered her childhood innocence, and made her feel unsafe in her own home. However, she also said she has had “outstanding support” since coming forward.

Her brother said he felt shock and horror when he found out that his sister had also been abused by Kiernan.

White acknowledged the “unbelievable courage” of the victims for coming forward to police.

He said that the offences were committed “at a time in Ireland when nobody talked about these things.”


Mimi Nguyen Ly is a reporter based in Australia. She covers world news with a focus on U.S. news. Contact her at