News Courts

Wednesday 3 September 2014

'I was seven when sex abuser
 ruined my childhood ... but he’s walked free from court'

Joyce Fegan

Published 27/06/2014 | 07:39

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John Carvin

A young woman sexually assaulted by a family member feels she has been robbed of justice after her abuser received a suspended sentence.

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Stephanie Phoenix (20), from Balbriggan, has waived her right to anonymity so that the man who abused her can be publicly named.

John Carvin (45) from Swords was convicted last May of sexually assaulting his brother's stepdaughter, Stephanie, when she was just seven years of age.

And last week he received a three-year prison sentence for his crime, all of which was suspended.

He is now a registered sex offender, but he avoided a jail sentence last week.

Ruined

Stephanie refused to meet him under the Restorative Justice Programme. "I didn't want to be in a room with him," she told the Herald.

"I was hoping he'd get time because I didn't want him walking the streets.

"I want to feel a little bit better. I thought I was going to get justice. I thought there was going to be some justice out of it, and then last week there was none."

Carvin was tried on two counts of sexual abuse between October 2000 and February 2001 but was only convicted of one.

He was convicted of sexually assaulting the then seven-year-old when he got into her bed late at night and assaulted her. The jury returned a unanimous verdict on this charge.

Carvin pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Stephanie first went to the police in late 2010. She woman says that her early years were ruined as a result of the abuse.

"I can't be near men. If there are too many in the room I have to go back out," she said.

"I've had nightmares about the case too. My childhood was destroyed for a start. I've never had a boyfriend. I can't go near them."

In her victim impact statement, Stephanie cited one instance where she refused to go up to a male cashier even though it would mean a far shorter queue, and instead she waited for the female staff member to serve her.

Sgt Liam Donoghue told the court that the man was sleeping in the room beside the girl on the night of the abuse.

During the night he climbed into her bed and began kissing and rubbing her. He left, but returned shortly afterwards and made her masturbate him before telling her "to get on top."

She refused and the man fell asleep. He was later discovered in the bed by another family member who told him to get out.

Stephanie decided to speak out to protect other children that Carvin may come into contact with. She said Carvin has shown no remorse for his actions.

Judge Patrick McCartan said Carvin had belatedly admitted his guilt by accepting the jury's verdict even though he had previously refused to do so.

He also said that the abuse was at the lower end of the scale, and accepting the jury's verdict he imposed a three-year sentence, suspended in full for three years.

On June 4, Judge McCartan asked the victim if she wanted to meet with her abuser under the Restorative Justice Programme.

She declined.

"I didn't want to be in a room with him," said Stephanie.

The judge said it was understandable that she did not want to meet Carvin as it would involve her having to relive the abuse.

He also said that in pleading not guilty, Carvin had forced Stephanie to go through a trial.

Carvin, when approached by the Herald at his home last night, refused to speak about his conviction.

Regret

When asked if he wished to say sorry or express regret for his crime, he replied: "No. I don't want to say
anything.

"It's all out there now. I don't want to say any thing."

In waiving her anonymity, Stephanie hopes she can somehow help other victims.

"I want to tell people that there is nothing to be ashamed of, and I am proud that I came out with it all," she said.

"I want to get my story across and to tell people that I was telling the truth from day one and I am going to keep on telling the truth."

jfegan@herald.ie

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