Waterford academic found guilty of abduction and falsely imprisoning an 11-year-old boy

Friday 06 December 2013 21.53
Pfeiffer, a doctor of computer science, had pleaded not guilty to child abduction and three counts of false imprisonment.
Pfeiffer, a doctor of computer science, had pleaded not guilty to child abduction and three counts of false imprisonment.

A man who abducted and falsely imprisoned an 11-year-old boy over two nights has been found guilty at a Waterford Circuit Criminal Court.

He was found guilty of child abduction and two counts of false imprisonment. 

Dr Thomas Pfeiffer, 51, with an address at Meadowview, Coolfin in Portlaw, Co Waterford, is a German academic who worked previously in Waterford.

The boy, who is now aged 16, came here to improve his English.

Pfeiffer, a doctor of computer science, had pleaded not guilty to child abduction and three counts of false imprisonment.

A jury found him guilty of child abduction after nearly four hours of deliberations.

Pfeiffer collected the 11-year-old German boy at Dublin Airport on 31 January 2009 and drove him to his home in Co Waterford.

The boy had arrived in Ireland as part of a programme advertised as "English - K12", in order to improve his English. 

The prosecution said the boy and his family originally understood he would be taken directly to his host family in Tramore.

When the host mother, who gave evidence on Wednesday, said she could not have the boy over that weekend, alternative arrangements were made.

The arrangement was for the boy to stay with a Liam Cahill and family at an address in Carrick-on-Suir.

However, postal worker James Walsh said that he "never heard" of this man, his family or a place name supplied named "Riversbend".

Instead, the boy arrived from Berlin and spent two days with Mr Dr Pfeiffer at his Co Waterford home.

When Dr Pfeiffer, also from Berlin met with the boy at the airport and placed him in a booster seat in the backseat of his car. 

The man then drove the boy to his home 194km away.

The boy's mother and aunt both told the court on Wednesday of their upset and anger to discover that the boy had spent the weekend at Dr Pfeiffer's house.

Following the boy's complaint, his mother told the host family mother in a phone call that she did not want her son to have any further dealings with the doctor during his five-month stay.

The court heard how Pfeiffer had measured and weighed the boy upon arrival at Portlaw.

There were no further incidents related to the charges during his five-month stay in Co Waterford.

The boy's mother, last night said: "We always thought he would be found guilty so we are not surprised."

The boy's aunt, who also gave evidence during the trial, said: "The Police here did the most wonderful job."

Earlier yesterday, Mary Rose Geraty SC, prosecuting with Noel Whelan, in closing said that Pfeiffer knew that the boy was not going to any other family including "the Cahill family" because "they did not exist".

"Thomas Pfeiffer was Thomas Cahill," she said.  She told the jury  they were entitled to believe "he very carefully and deliberately ensured" the boy stayed with him over that weekend.

The boy's mother said that the boy will be happy with the outcome.

Quoting the boy, the aunt explained how he told her: "I went through with it and we coped with it. This is all about prevention...that this will never happen again."

The court heard that Pfeiffer had placed €75,000, the equity of his home in Ireland, as bail. 

However, bail was denied and he was jailed, to appear at a sitting of the court in January.