Former Irish Times journalist Tom Humphries has seen sentenced to two and a half years behind bars after he was convicted of grooming and then sexually abusing a teenage girl.

The 54-year-old sports journalist sent his then 14-year-old victim 16,000 text messages in a three month period. What started out as mere encouragement about her life and performance on the camogie team he coached soon became sexual in nature. 

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The texting then progressed to sexual acts and it was the memory of these encounters in 2011 the victim told the court left her feeling “physically sick”, mentally ill and caused her to miss school as a consequence.

“I lost my trust in men. The loss of my childhood came with the ordeal of having to deal with the police, counselors, solicitors and social workers,” she continued.

Humphries, who has was taken three weeks ago to the Midlands Prison at his own request, was today move to Mountjoy in Dublin. It’s likely however that will not be where he lives out most of his jail time as most sex offenders are moved to Arbour Hill Prison for their own safety.

In sentencing him Judge Karen O’Connor said that the seriousness of the offences merited the “headline sentence” of four years but she had decided against a custodial sentence of that length due to mitigating factors.

She said she had taken into account Humphries’ very public fall from grace due to what she called his “high profile”, his guilty plea and character references from family, a fellow journalist and the well-known hurler, Dónal Óg Cusack.

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The aggravating factors she had taken into account, however, were the age disparity between Humphries and his victim as well as his “position” of authority over her.

The perceived shortness of the sentence led to a backlash on social media with others taking aim an Irish Times profile of the man they judged far too complimentary.

Tom Humphries groomed his victim for 2yrs.
He defiled her multiple times over the next 14mths.
He will spend less than 2.5yrs in prison.

— Sinead O'Carroll (@SineadOCarroll) October 24, 2017

Rarely shocked, but I am by the leniency of the Tom Humphries sentence considering what crimes he committed against a child.

— Matt Cooper (@cooper_m) October 24, 2017

after judge's incredible comments about it being "hard not to have sympathy" for paedophile Tom Humphries, we should all say #zerosympathy

— Matt Cooper (@cooper_m) October 24, 2017

It is absolutely disgusting that admitted paedophile Tom Humphries only got two and a half years in prison. This needs to be changed NOW

— Nicola Bardon (@NicolaBardon) October 24, 2017

Headline and sub-head on that Irish Times Tom Humphries piece have changed. Article remains. How that could be published today I don't know.

— Rónán Duffy (@ronanduffy_) October 24, 2017

I don't think I've ever read such a long career eulogy about someone who had just been convicted of sexual abuse...

— Rick O'Shea (@rickoshea) October 24, 2017

Humphries, his former employer told readers, “had the capacity to both charm and eviscerate, be worldly and erudite and also spiteful and petty.”

“It was often said Humphries was a loner,” the profile continued, “which wasn’t entirely true, although he stopped drinking alcohol and did not socialise widely.”

When news of his crimes hit the newsroom it was “a source of shock and distress to his colleagues.”

His career in ruins, his reputation eviscerated and his freedom no more, Humphries will have plenty of time to reflect on his crimes and what might have been.