Friday 9 December 2016

Grandfather is jailed for abuse of girls in 'hide and seek' games

Fiona Ferguson

Published 17/03/2010 | 05:00

A GRANDFATHER sexually abused young girls in his neighbourhood for almost 20 years during games of hide and seek and 'driving lessons'.

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Thomas Harman (73) was jailed for four years by Judge Patricia Ryan at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday.

Harman was urged by the eldest of his victims, as she gave evidence of the impact the abuse had had on her, to look at his hands and think about how many lives they had destroyed.

Harman, with an address at Abbey Grove, Navan, Co Meath, and formerly of Arthur Griffin Park, Lucan, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty to eight sample counts of indecent assault and two sample counts of sexual assault against three sisters and a fourth girl on dates between 1975 and 1993.

The girls were aged between five and eight when the assaults on them began in their Dublin neighbourhood.

The eldest victim, now aged 42, described how she had scrubbed her skin raw in a bath of Dettol as a 12-year-old and also turned to self-harm in an attempt to deal with the abuse.

She told Harman: "I will never forgive you for causing so much pain in my life."

Ashamed

Her sister, now 30, said in her victim-impact statement that Harman had robbed her of her innocence as a five-year-old. She used to pray that she would not have to go out and play.

She remembered little of her teenage years when she had turned to drugs because of the "hurt and pain".

The youngest sister, now 25, described feeling "ashamed and dirty" and said she had started abusing solvents at a young age to escape her feelings. She accepted Harman had pleaded guilty but said she could not have a second childhood.

The fourth complainant said she suffered from depression and had trust and relationship difficulties. She had left the neighbourhood as soon as she was old enough and had lived with the guilt that she could have prevented someone else being abused.

The court heard Harman had joined in neighbourhood games of "hide and seek" and abused the children as they hid alone.

The eldest woman said Harman placed her on his lap in his car and fondled her under the guise of teaching her to drive.

The youngest sister said she loved dogs and Harman would invite her along when he was walking his dogs by a river over a two-year period beginning when she was eight-years-old. She said he would abuse her on wasteland.

Det Gda Newton said Harman, who has no previous convictions, was arrested after the eldest complainant made a statement to gardai in 1999. He denied the offences.

He said Harman had, through his own actions, brought irreparable damage on his own reputation and was now becoming a "pariah".

The judge imposed concurrent sentences totalling four years and ordered that he be placed on the sex offenders register for a period of 10 years.

Irish Independent

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