Kieran Creaven’s former RTE colleagues reveal shock at depraved paedophile’s secret life
When a video of Kieran Creaven being arrested in England in November 2017 began to circulate online, his colleagues in RTÉ recognised him immediately.
He was filmed by members of vigilante group Predator Exposure, who had lured him to Leeds on the pretext of meeting a 13-year-old girl.
After the group confronted him while live videoing the exchange, they handed him over to the police. He was later charged with attempting to engage or incite sexual activity with a girl under 16.
When searched by officers, they found two phones, two boxes of condoms and evidence of previous paedophile activity.
In Dublin, those who had worked closely with him, although utterly horrified at the revelations, privately hoped it was his first offence –the alternative was too grim to bear thinking about.
‘Once the shock died down a little bit, and I know from talking to other people at work that it was the same for them, the overriding feeling and thoughts were that everyone just hoped he’d been caught first time,’ explains one of Creaven’s former workmates, who didn’t want to be named.
‘That this was just a thing he tried, he chanced his arm and got caught because he wasn’t savvy enough. I know that in the office people were weeping when the full details started to come out. There was real devastation, people couldn’t really fathom it. The horror of the possibilities, all of which ended up being true.’
Indeed, since Creaven’s initial arrest and subsequent court case in the UK, the horrific details of his crimes against children across several different countries have been difficult to fully absorb.
After spending nine months in prison in the UK, he returned to face a garda investigation in Ireland. He was arrested in October 2020 and last week he was sentenced to ten years in prison after pleading guilty to ten counts of child sex offences, including four counts of child exploitation, two counts of sexually assaulting a child and four counts of child pornography.
The offences took place in Ireland, the UK and the Philippines in 2014 and 2017.
When handing down his sentence Judge Melanie Greally described his behavior as ‘degrading in the extreme’ for his vulnerable child victims, who were in some cases being abused for commercial gain.
She pointed out how one child, who Creaven was filmed sexually abusing in the Philippines, has never been found and her fate remains unknown. ‘As she has not been rescued, it is difficult to conceive she has any hope of a normal childhood,’ said Judge Greally. ‘Much less a bright future.’
Creaven’s repugnant crimes have highlighted a child sex abuse industry that most of us would prefer to remain ignorant of. But as Judge Greally explained, it’s important that those who sexually abuse children are made aware that they will face the strongest possible penalties for their crimes.
It has also highlighted perhaps one of the most unsettling elements of crimes such as these — that perpetrators of child sex abuse rarely stand out. They live and work among us, hiding their true identities.
As those who worked with Creaven in RTÉ have confirmed, he was good at his job, dependable and conscientious, mannerly and pleasant. He was someone they trusted and, while he may not have had any very close friendships at the station, he was generally well-liked and appreciated for the job that he did.
In the aftermath of his sentencing, there is still a strong sense of shock from those who worked alongside him in the sports department, where he was employed fulltime for 15 years.
Some of them spoke to Prime Time earlier this week, including horse racing pundit Tracy Piggott, who worked with Creaven throughout his entire RTÉ career. She told how she found him to be amiable and professional.
‘He was a perfectly pleasant, decent man who did his job well,’ she said. ‘I mean, if I was to really kind of look back and look into his personality, I guess he never showed any great range of emotion.’
Piggott, like many of those in RTÉ who knew Creaven, has been left shaken at how ordinary he seemed, compared to what was going on in his twisted mind.
‘That clearly sets you back a bit when you realise what people are capable of,’ she told Prime Time. ‘I think that’s the most frightening thing… that someone can present themselves in a way and you can trust them and have confidence in them and they can be this completely different person. I mean, that’s really, really frightening.’
Creaven, now 59 years old and whose most recent address was Adelaide Street in Dun Laoghaire, is originally from Ballinasloe in Co Galway. He comes from a well-known sporting family from the Creagh area and locals have previously said it’s a relief that his parents are not alive to see what their son has done.
He was married for a number of years to a Portuguese woman, and together they lived in an apartment in a restored Georgian house on Dublin’s northside, where they regularly rented out a room on Airbnb.
Describing themselves as an Irish/ Portuguese couple who enjoyed living in the ‘multi-ethnic area’, reviews left by guests praised them as ‘great, welcoming hosts. Kieran met us off the bus from the airport and guided us to his place, even helping with the luggage.’
Creaven was still married when he was arrested in Leeds in 2017. In fact, he had been planning a 40th birthday for his wife, to which he had invited several of his colleagues.
A few days following his arrest, after being contacted by the police in the UK, gardaí called at his home to search it for any incriminating evidence. They also searched his workplace at RTÉ.
Officers arrived at the sports department of the State broadcaster just before 9am on a Monday. Those there on the day described the ‘shocked silence’ that fell over the office.
‘That’s the only way I can describe it, the place just went quiet and it stayed like that for the day,’ says one former colleague. ‘We’d seen the video on Facebook but I don’t think we quite believed it until the guards arrived and took away his computer, all his stuff, everything.’
His workmates also told how Creaven had even mentioned his trip to the UK, which seemed unremarkable as he is a Leeds United fan and the club were playing at home. He said he had a ticket for the game.
Creaven has since been divorced by his wife, who is believed to still live and work in Ireland.
In a letter she wrote to the judge in England, she told how Creaven had become withdrawn in their marriage, and although she realised there was something wrong, she never thought or even guessed he was abusing children.
She described him as ‘a law abiding, kind, gentle and intelligent man’. But she revealed that their marriage ‘is shattered’ and they have since divorced.
‘There’s so much sympathy for her,’ says one of Creaven’s former RTÉ colleagues. ‘I don’t think anybody believes she had any clue of what he was capable of. I bumped into them once, at a cinema in Dublin city centre.
‘We were going to different movies, so we stopped and had a bit of a chat. I remember thinking he was punching well above his weight, she was a very warm, attractive woman.’
Creaven started freelancing for RTÉ as a sub-editor in 1999. Three years later, in October 2002, he was employed at the station as a sports executive producer. He worked mostly covering horse racing.
‘Some of the sports crowd have worked there for years, a lot of them are really close — they’ve gone to each other’s weddings, stuff like that,’ explains an RTÉ source.
‘My general impression of Kieran was that he wasn’t necessarily one of the lads.
‘I got on well with him, he was into music and movies, we had similar interests, so you could have a chat with him in the canteen. Working with him was different, he could be a bit condescending. The way he’d show you corrections, he talked to you a bit like a teacher. I’d say his way of communicating could be annoying.
‘I’d agree with what other people in here have said about him, that he was a fairly closed off kind of guy, he was just someone you worked with. At times it was in quite close quarters, you’d be out for the full day together, but you’d be so focussed on the job that there wasn’t a whole lot of getting to know each other. I don’t remember him going out much socialising, for a pint or anything like that.’
Those who worked with Creaven remember vividly when the first videos emerged on Facebook of him being confronted by the vigilante group in Leeds in November 2017, after he travelled there to meet who he thought was a 13-year-old girl.
‘I saw it on my phone one evening,’ says one. ‘At first it didn’t say who it was, it was just “RTÉ producer” but then I saw a screen grab from the video. The minute I saw it I knew exactly who it was. You saw enough of his face to be able to recognise him. I felt total shock.’
At the first trial Creaven pleaded guilty in December 2017 to a charge of attempting to meet a girl under the age of 16 years following grooming. He also pleaded guilty to a second charge of attempting to cause or incite a girl aged between 13 and 15 to engage in non-penetrative sexual activity.
During the trial it emerged that he had admitted to police that he had made online contact with 15 to 20 teenage girls, aged between 13 and 18 years of age, and that he had blackmailed some of them by threatening to release information about them on Facebook.
The prosecuting lawyer revealed that Creaven had tried to blame technology for his attraction to children.
‘He told police he had an addiction to pornography, and it had been that way for a number of years and technology made him do it,’ they said.
Creaven told the investigating officers that he watched videos of male and female children aged between eight and 17.
When asked why he did it, he said: ‘I need professional help and I am attracted to children.’
In March 2018 he was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
‘From my experience, he wasn’t really mentioned after that,’ says the former RTÉ colleague.
‘His desk became a storage place, no one ever went near it again.’
This recent trial, however, proved impossible to ignore. ‘This one feels so much bigger,’ says the former workmate. ‘The one where we actually learned the full extent of what was going on.’
Indeed, the details are horrific. Gardaí told the court how Creaven’s home in Dublin was searched in 2017 after he was arrested in Leeds and several devices were seized. Investigating officers made inquiries with online companies including Facebook, Skype and Paypal.
Videos on a memory card included one that showed Creaven videoing himself sexually assaulting a girl between the age of 10 and 12 in the Philippines in 2014. At times, another adult present took over the recording.
Creaven was identifiable by his ‘distinctive tattoos’ and his face was clearly visible in parts of the videos, which were shot on October 12 and 16, 2014, and involved the same child.
A baby under the age of one was present on the first occasion and could be seen lying on the same bed as the child Creaven was abusing.
At one point, Creaven could be heard saying: ‘Oh God, she is beautiful.’
Gardaí also found records of a Skype chat between Creaven and an account in the Philippines in November 2017, during which Creaven paid €40 to view a child’s private parts.
The investigation also discovered that Creaven had engaged in sexual conversations with three children on Facebook in Ireland in June and July 2017. He sent the children sexual images, graphic stories and videos.
One of the girls, then aged 16, was in the care of Tusla at the time, the court heard.
Since his sentencing last week it has emerged that Creaven targeted almost 100 children in multiple online approaches. This week, gardaí appealed to any children or parents who may have come across social media profiles with the names Jimi Cee or CaseyCasey to contact them.
They are concerned that two other children with whom it is known Creaven had online contact may have been subjected to sexual exploitation but are afraid to tell their parents.
‘In addition to the three Irish victims where there were charges, there are a further five young people and children who were taken into safe care in the Philippines,’ head of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau, Detective Chief Superintendent Colm Noonan, told Prime Time.
There were questions raised this week if Creaven had been travelling for work with RTÉ at any of the times he abused children. But while Creaven occasionally travelled abroad as an ‘away producer’ for major sporting events, RTÉ confirmed this week that his trips to Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Kenya and the Philippines ‘were not in connection with RTÉ business’.
Some have also asked if Creaven used any of his work devices to contact children online. This week RTÉ said it was seeking clarification from the gardaí regarding their investigation.
Det Chief Supt Noonan told Prime Time that their focus was on searching any devices to retrieve evidence in support of criminal charges, not ‘the ownership of those digital devices, or where they originated from’.
It’s already been pointed out this week that had Creaven not been ‘entrapped’ by the vigilante group in Leeds, he could still be travelling to far-flung places to continue his vile abuse. Certainly no one ever questioned his love of travel.
‘I thought he was like many other guys who like to travel on their own,’ says a former workmate.
‘He seemed like that kind of guy, into indie movies and music — going off the beaten track was just another interest.
‘I never got any inkling of anything sinister or weird, people almost saw him as a bit of a fuddy duddy or a nerd.
‘At the very beginning everyone just wanted it to be that thing, where it was his first time trying something like that. But then it wasn’t. It’s the worst thing you can actually imagine. At the back of your mind you’re thinking about all the travelling he did…
‘You think about your own kids. If I can’t see it when it’s right in front of my face, well, a lot of thoughts start going through your head. It’s all so grim.’