Sunday 23 October 2016

Man who sexually abused his young niece three times walks free from court after judge gives him suspended sentence

Andrew Phelan

Published 08/04/2016 | 14:06

Damien Farrell, Sligo, pictured leaving The CCJ
Damien Farrell, Sligo, pictured leaving The CCJ
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A MAN who sexually abused his young niece three times has walked free from court after a judge gave him a suspended sentence.

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Damien Farrell (40) had a three-year-jail term suspended in its entirety for sexually assaulting Aimee Ford was she was eight years old and he was 16.

The Central Criminal Court heard she was being babysat at her grandmother's house where Farrell lived while on summer holidays and playing Nintendo in the accused's bedroom when the abuse happened.

On two occasions, he touched her outside her clothes, mimicking sexual intercourse, but removed some of her clothing in the third incident.

The defendant, of Lymewood Mews, Santry admitted three counts of sexual assault between April and September 1992.

He broke down in tears when Judge Margaret Heneghan suspended the sentence.


In a victim impact statement, Ms Ford (32), now a mother-of-four who waived her right to anonymity, told the court: “I’m not a victim any more.”

Damien Farrell, Sligo, pictured leaving The CCJ
Damien Farrell, Sligo, pictured leaving The CCJ

Judge Heneghan said the nature of the crimes was devastating and there was a degree of "depravity" in any abuse of a child.

Farrell had written a letter of apology and Ms Ford had read out her victim impact statement with "great strength and dignity."

The offences had deeply affected the accused and victim's immediate and extended families, the judge said.

Aggravating factors were the gravity of the offences, which involved the exploitation of a defenceless child and breach of trust., the judge said

In mitigation, the judge cited the accused's early plea, co-operation with the gardai , his lack of any previous convictions and efforts to rehabilitate himself.

"These offences do not reach the higher end of he scale," the judge said, adding that there was no evidence of "grooming".

At the sentencing hearings, Ms Ford told the court she was “devastated” by the abuse.

“The person who did these horrible things to me when I was eight years old needs to be punished for what he’s done," she said in her victim impact statement.

" I was never allowed to feel like a victim, I was always made to feel like a perpetrator who had done something wrong. My life spun out of control, I stopped caring - he stole my innocence and my childhood. I’m not bitter, I just want him to be held accountable. I was a victim when I was 8; I’m not a victim anymore."

Farrell, now a father--of-three had been introverted and socially inept and immature at the time he abused his niece.

“He says he is deeply, deeply sorry for all the hurt and pain she has been through… none of this is her fault,” the accused’s lawyer said.

The court heard it was a very close-knit family and the accused “mimicked sexual intercourse” with her.

Ms Ford said she had trusted Farrell and what happened “felt weird.”

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