Sunday 22 October 2017

Sex offender died while awaiting sentencing for molesting two sisters

Sonya McLean

A SEX offender has died while awaiting sentence for molesting two sisters 25 years ago.

The court heard that the older sister was hospitalised when she was 15 years old having taken an overdose as a direct result of the abuse.



The abuser was a family friend and her parents decided not to report the incident to the gardai on the condition that he underwent counselling.



The woman decided herself to go to the gardai 16 years later and it was then that her younger sister disclosed that she too had been sexually assaulted by the man for three years. Her abuse stopped when her older sister went into hospital.



The 53-year-old man had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to three sample charges of sexual assault and indecent assault on the girls between 1986 and 1992. The girls were aged 11 and eight when the abuse first started.



The man had no previous convictions and had been in the catering division of the Irish Army before he retired.



The court heard that he admitted to gardai following his arrest that it was “probably fair to say” that he had been attracted to the eight-year-old girl.



Martina Baxter BL, prosecuting, told Judge Mary Ellen Ring, when evidence was first heard last May, that the victims wanted the man named in the media as long as they were not identified.



Judge Ring adjourned the case to today for sentence and reserved her decision on reporting restrictions in the case.



Today she made “no order” in the case when she heard that the man has since passed away.



She agreed to a request from defence counsel Pieter Le Vert BL that the reporting restrictions should remain in place.



“I understand that the man’s father is still alive and that the man has a wife and child. Given all the circumstances in this case, the reporting restrictions are to remain in place,” Judge Ring said.



Detective Garda Michael Fitzgerald told Ms Baxter at the sentence hearing that that the abuse was first reported to gardai in February 2009.



The girls said that the man was a family friend. He would often visit their home and collect them from school.



The man was arrested and told gardai he may have “inadvertently” touched the older girl’s breasts while he was tickling her and admitted one incident of molesting the younger girl while she was sitting in his car waiting to pick up his wife from work.



He suggested to gardai that they younger girl probably “made up the other allegations to make it sound worse”.



He later returned to the garda station saying he wanted to be “more truthful” before he admitted the abuse. The man claimed that he had attended counselling which he said he found “very helpful”.



He later prepared a “statement of regret” and said he wished he “could turn back the clock”.



Two victim impact reports were handed into court but not read out.



Det Gda Fitzgerald confirmed that both women are now mothers and worry about other people looking after their children.



Judge Ring said after hearing the evidence that this was a very serious matter.



“The courts can become blasé about these cases compared to some of the more outrageous crimes and forget that with children, they are extremely serious and the devastating effects do not go with the passage of time,” the judge said.



“He only stopped after an overdose and the credit for stopping him is with these two women,” Judge Ring continued.



“The abuse is as alive today as it was in 1991 and 1992. These two girls were right to go to the gardai and right to go to their parents.”



She registered the man as a sex offender and adjourned the case to allow for the preparation of a report from the Probation Service before warning the man that she may still impose a custodial sentence.



Det Gda Fitzgerald agreed with Mr Le Vert that his client had written to the victims’ family when the older girl had been hospitalised and agreed to undergo counselling.



He further accepted that the man had never been violent to the girls and one had reported to gardai that he was “always very nice”.



Mr Le Vert said his client had served almost 30 years in the army working in the catering division before he was honourably discharged. His wife and his daughter were in court to support him.



Counsel said it was the birth of the man’s daughter that made him realise the wrong he had done. He had €10,000 in court to offer the women as a token of his remorse.



“He has tried to put a salve on the almost impossible hurt he has caused these two women,” Mr Le Vert said. <ends>



ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE OF THE ABUSE



The older sister told gardai the first incident occurred while she was in the accused’s home and they were sitting on the sofa watching a Clint Eastwood movie. She said she was about 11 years old and recalled wearing a blue sailor blouse.



She was sitting on his lap, while her younger sister was sitting on the floor in front of them.



The man started to tickle her before he opened her blouse and touched her breasts. She started to cry and he later brought them home. She said she later managed to convince herself that it had not happened.



She said the second incident happened when she was sitting in her back garden sunbathing.



She recalled wearing a bikini top and shorts when she said the man sat in front of her and started to put his hands up her leg. Her mother called her from the kitchen and he stopped.



She was later hospitalised having taken an overdose. She then reported the abuse to her parents but a decision was made not to report it to gardai.



Det Gda Fitzgerald said the victims’ parents sent a letter to the man outlining the situation and told him that if he undertook to get counselling they would not report the abuse to gardai.



The younger sister told gardai that she had been first abused when she was eight years old. She said the man put his hands down her pants, forced her legs apart and digitally penetrated her.



A second time she was at home from school sick when he came into the sitting room and molested her while she was lying on the couch under a duvet. He stopped touching her when her mother walked into the room.



The man abused her a third time while she was sitting on his lap and he was helping her with her homework.



Another incident of abuse occurred while she was sitting in the man’s car outside his wife’s workplace.



She told gardai the abuse continued in a similar manner on a regular basis while she was aged eight to 11 years old. She thought it was normal behaviour but when she matured and realized it was wrong, she was afraid to tell her mother.

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