A MAN who sexually assaulted an eight-year-old girl as she watched television was sentenced to 18 months in prison yesterday.
John Murphy (26), of Curragh Close, Listowel, Co Kerry admitted sexual assaulting the the child on a date between July 1 and July 31, 2002.
Garda Brid Norris said that Murphy was 16 when he was babysitting the victim in the suburbs of Cork city.
Cork Circuit Criminal Court was told the accused was sitting on an armchair while the victim was sitting on a couch.
The victim, who is now 19, told gardai that the assault lasted for 15 to 20 minutes.
The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the court that she wanted the man named.
She told Judge Patrick Moran of the horrific affect the attacks had on her.
"I couldn't get the grades to do my course and I have never had a relationship with any boy that I could trust.
"I am ashamed of what happened to me and I just want to get closure for what happened to me as a child," she said.
The court heard also from the accused, who is a father of two.
Murphy said: "I just want to apologise to her and her family for the hurt over the years – it obviously has not been easy.
"It must have been hard for her to come forward."
Murphy explained to the court he realised his actions have affected the life of his victim.
"I realise now, what I done was very wrong – I want the next six years of my life to be better. I have changed a lot in the past few years," he claimed.
Sentencing, Judge Moran spoke of the difficulty faced by the victim.
"She has gone through quite a few unpleasant years – it is obvious that this has affected her a lot and she is still very emotional about it.
"I accept you apologised to her but I have to think about society," said the judge.
He sentenced the accused to three years' imprisonment with the last 18 months suspended.