A MAN suspected of carrying out a litany of sex abuse on children before ending up murdered and buried in a Border bog almost 20 years ago began his sick depravity when he was a teenager, it can be revealed.
Suspected child abuser David Sullivan, a former Ulsterbus driver and youth worker is believed to have abused numerous children for years, in some cases even drugging and raping them. Now for the first time a spotlight can be shone on the disturbed activities of a child who grew up to be a sadistic, wicked man after one of his first alleged victims came forward to this newspaper.
Breaking her silence for the first time, Susie Johnston (nee Agnew) has claimed how “lonely” and “intellectually challenged” Sullivan began to sexually abuse her in the Model School House on the Dublin Road where her father Ronnie was vice principal and his father George was principal. She was nine years old.
“He was just starting on his morbid path, he obviously grew in depravity. I was convenient because he lived next door and, as his history shows, he preferred little boys,” she claimed.
In an interview with The Impartial Reporter this week from her home in Edmonton, Alberta in Canada where she now lives, Mrs. Johnston has alleged Sullivan’s harsh upbringing may have played a part in the road he decided to take.
“His father George was a nasty little man who physically abused his son. His mother Florence was passive and tried to protect her son from his father.
“David was a pathetic and lonely individual who had no friends and had nothing going for him,” she said.
“My mum was Jean and between caring for Daddy, raising her family, teaching in the Model plus her many outside interests, she had her hands full,” recalled Mrs. Johnston.
It should have been a simplistic childhood living in that famous house with her family in one half and the Sullivans in the other.
“I was a friendly, happy little girl. I used to happily play by myself in the garden and in the schoolyard. David was always there trying to join me.
“Mr. Sullivan was an avid gardener and had a big vegetable garden. I used to love eating peas and broad beans. I vividly remember their greenhouse with a distinct smell of tomatoes and onions,” she said.
She remembers a young Sullivan tinkering in the family’s garage. He loved cars, yet years later would end up abusing children in them along roads in Fermanagh.
“They had tools that we didn’t; I was intrigued by a vice that was attached to a counter but we couldn’t touch anything as Mr. Sullivan would be angry. They had a Springer Spaniel named Grouse and we had a Cocker Spaniel named Nicky. One time Nicky ran across the Dublin Road, Grouse followed and because he was slower, was hit by a car. Mr. Sullivan blamed me for it although I had nothing to do with it, our dog was just younger and faster.
“I liked Mrs. Sullivan and her kitchen. She used to have something for hanging tea towels on where you pushed your finger in and they stayed,” recalled Mrs. Johnston.
But gone were those days when her friend Sullivan turned into a “pathetic creep” by forcing her, a child, to watch him pleasure himself.
“I knew nothing about sex or masturbation. We were in his bedroom and also in the toilet upstairs in his house. I was more interested in the long chain and flushing mechanism than what he was doing.
“Then he had me pleasure him. I was so very innocent and for me it was just like playing with an interactive toy. I felt powerful at the time, thinking look at what I can make this thing do.”
She said it soon progressed to the pair lying fully-clothed in his parents’ bed.
“His mother came upstairs and used the word ‘shame’. It was probably meant for him but I took it on. It stopped being a game and I was robbed of my innocence at that moment.
“I don’t remember what happened after that except that the focus was on poor Mrs. Sullivan, how it affected her. I was ignored. Had he known, Mr. Sullivan would have beaten David severely.”
At the time it was, of course, not reported to the authorities, it wasn’t even talked about.
“Mum thought I was young enough and bright enough that I would forget. Back then nobody knew the life-long damage and hurt that it would cause, how it would manifest in many different ways.
“It destroyed my trust, I was constantly seeking approval, lost self-respect, became promiscuous and tested everyone,” she said.
And she would meet her abuser again, each time she visited in latter years.
“Social graces took precedence however and each time I came home on holiday, Mrs. Sullivan would have me over for coffee. I had to sit opposite David with him leering at me across the table - yuck.
“I was probably just convenient. He was starting out on his disturbed, sadistic path.
“I do know he had some affiliation with [names individual] who was from a prominent RUC family in Enniskillen. He was later murdered in the Troubles.”
In 2012 it was revealed that the skull of murdered Sullivan was retained by police as part of investigations into suspicious and unexplained deaths between 1960 and 2005.
Police launched one of the biggest ever manhunts in Northern Ireland’s history following the disappearance of the 51 year old from his home in Enniskillen on August 26, 1998.
Most of his badly decomposed body was found by a man walking his dog near Belcoo in February 2000. The head, which had been separated by his killers, was found a few days later.
It was believed that Sullivan, who had previously served in the RAF, may have been murdered because he was involved in a paedophile ring which targeted young boys.
He could only be identified by DNA testing after his elderly mother provided samples. The remains were little more than a skeleton having been eaten by foxes.
When news that his skull had been retained emerged seven years ago Mrs. Johnston contacted the PSNI for the first time to tell her story.
“Due to the time difference I waited up until after 2am my time to ensure it was day time in Enniskillen. I talked with some male police officer who seemed interested in what I had to say and apparently took notes of our conversation. I don’t remember his name and of course never heard anything from anyone.”
In recent months several alleged victims of Sullivan’s years of abuse have shared their memories with this newspaper: there’s the schoolboy abused 12 times on his bus, the video rental salesman drugged and raped in his flat, the teenager hitching a lift who ended up being the victim of a depraved act and others.
After vowing to review every single historical sex abuse case in Fermanagh, the PSNI say at least seven of the cases specialist detectives are working on relate to Sullivan.
As revealed by this newspaper, police were alerted by at least two of his victims before his death but did nothing.
“I never saw evil in David, he was just pathetic. He could very easily have been manipulated,” said Mrs. Johnston.
“Was I just lucky to have had dealings with him before he turned evil? Was the evil a genetic trait inherited from his father who definitely was a mean little man?
“I don’t know if he developed evil because he got away with things, when he developed associations with other men who themselves may have been evil and used David, or evil and sadistic developed as he got older,” Mrs. Johnston told The Impartial Reporter.