A former caretaker at a GAA grounds in the midlands has been sentenced to 12 years in jail with four years suspended for sexual assault, sexual exploitation, possession and distribution of child pornography.

Jimmy McDonnell of Annaly Park in Longford, a former Sinn Féin councillor and former member of the Defence Forces, had pleaded guilty to 45 sample charges out of over 140 offences committed between 2000 and 2008.

The abuse began when he struck up friendships with four children, one was as young as 4, when the abuse began.

A 7-year-old boy was abused for eight years sometimes on a daily basis and with Mr McDonnell videotaping what was happening.

When gardaí searched his house they found child pornography on his computer.

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

This included 128 movie files, seven of which were in the most serious category according to a Detective in the Garda Cyber Crime Unit.

A handwritten apology to his victims was handed into court in behalf of Mr McDonnell, in which he says he was deeply sorry for the mental anguish and deep psychological damage the abuse had caused.

Sentencing him at Longford Circuit Court today, Judge Keenan Johnson said these were extremely serious offences which occurred over a protracted period of time and involved predatory behaviour, manipulation, grooming and premeditation on the part of the accused.

The judge said it is clear he had no victim empathy and he also noted a report that he was at high risk of reoffending.

The judge said the abuse had a profound negative long lasting impact on each of the victims.

He wished them each well and said he sincerely hoped after today that they can tap into their potential and live the complete and fulfilled lives they so richly deserve.

Following sentencing, the judge said the defendant could be named in the media but the anonymity of his victims must be maintained.