Friday 22 September 2017

Car dealer avoids jail for sexually assaulting two nieces

Conor Gallagher

A CAR dealer who sexually assaulted two of his adult nieces has avoided a jail term after the judge said publication of his name will be punishment in itself.

Aidan Farrington (45) abused the victims on three separate occasions. The abuse came to light when a letter of apology to one of his victims was found by her parents.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard the abuse has torn the family apart and victim impact reports by the women state they still suffer the consequences every day.

Farrington's wife took the stand and described him as a “magnificent person and the absolute rock of the family.” The court heard he is a father of four and runs a successful car dealership.

Judge Martin Nolan noted the fracture in the family and commented: "I see before me two groups of people, one on the left and one on the right. People will be upset no matter what I do in this case.

"People on one side believe a punishment should be imposed and people on the other believe I shouldn't be as severe," he continued.

Judge Nolan said the abuse was very serious but "the seriousness of the assaults themselves do not mandate a custodial sentence". He said that all the incidents of abuse lasted a short amount of time and were lower down the scale compared with other cases that come before the court.

He ordered that Farrington's name can be reported in the media after hearing the victims have no problem with this.

"This will be a punishment in itself," the judge added. "He will be rightfully held in public odium for what he has done."

He imposed a three-year jail term suspended for three years. Farrington was not added to the sex offender's register as the victims were over 18 and a suspended sentence was given. Sobs were heard from both side of the court as Farrington left the dock.

Prosecuting counsel also told the judge he had no power to order Farrington be added to the register.

Farrington, of Iona Drive, Glasnevin, Dublin 9, pleaded guilty to sexually abusing one niece in 1995 in his mother’s home and abusing another in 1998 in his own house and again in 2001 in a Kilkenny Hotel.

Garda Eimear Callanan told prosecuting counsel Fiona Murphy BL that the first incident happened after the then 22-year-old victim was on a work night out which Farrington also attended. She was staying in her grandmother's house where Farrington resided.

He came into the room, pulled down her underwear and performed oral sex on her as the victim lay there shocked and crying. When he stopped he said sorry and told her: "I must have been sleepwalking." The next day he begged her not to tell anyone.

In 1998 another niece was babysitting her cousins in Farrington's house. The next morning he called the 18-year-old into his bed, asking for "a cuddle". He began to touch her genitals and when she told him to stop he apologised and claimed he thought she was his wife.

The last incident happened when several members of the family went to a GAA match in Kilkenny. The victim and Farrington had separate hotel rooms but she awoke to find him in her bed with his hands down her underwear. Again he said sorry and that he thought she was his wife.

In 2008 both women got a letter from Farrington containing "an apology of sorts" but not admitting guilt. One of the women’s parents found the letter and a complaint was made to gardai.

He made full admissions on arrest and was "very remorseful".

Defence counsel Caroline Biggs SC handed in a large number of character references for her client. She said he has the full support of his family and there are no concerns about him being around children.

Counsel said he was drinking heavily at the time and is at a low risk of re-offending. She said the last five years have been a punishment and that "a family has been destroyed".

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