Tuesday 28 March 2017

Stepdad tied up girl (10) with dog lead during sexual abuse

Laura Johnston leaves Dublin Circuit Court after her stepfather George Crombie was jailed. Photo: Tony Gavin
Laura Johnston leaves Dublin Circuit Court after her stepfather George Crombie was jailed. Photo: Tony Gavin

Isabel Hayes and Sonya McLean

A man has been jailed for two and a half years for the "degrading" and "unrelenting" abuse of his stepdaughter when she was a child.

George Crombie (47) threatened victim Laura Johnston and said there would be "murder in this flat" if she told her mother about the abuse, which began when she was 10 years old.

The court was told that on one occasion the 47-year-old put a dog lead around her neck while he sexually assaulted her.

Last week Laura Johnston, now in her twenties, read her victim impact statement to the court in which she condemned Crombie for "betraying her trust and love in him".

"How could I ever get over what my stepfather, who I loved and trusted, did to me as a 10-year-old girl," Ms Johnston said.

The court heard she wished to waive her right to anonymity.

George Crombie. Photo: Tony Gavin
George Crombie. Photo: Tony Gavin

Crombie, with an address on Bloomfield Ave, South Circular Road, Dublin 8, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to eight counts of sexually assaulting Ms Johnston in their Ringsend home between February 2004 and December 2006.

Garda Sandra Fitzgerald agreed with Dean Kelly BL, prosecuting at last week's hearing, that Crombie had been with Ms Johnston's mother since she was a small child and Ms Johnston had a number of younger half-siblings.

The court heard Ms Johnston thought Crombie was her real father until she was aged 10, when her mother told her he was in fact her stepfather.

When told the news, Ms Johnston showed her support for Crombie by ripping up the birth cert that said he was not her real father.

"She indicated she saw (Crombie) as her real father and she had no difficulty with the news she had received," Mr Kelly said.

However, shortly after finding out Crombie was not her father, he started acting differently towards her, the court heard.

"He started questioning her about her friends and boys," Mr Kelly said.

Crombie then started going into her bedroom when her mother and siblings were asleep and touching Ms Johnston while she was lying in bed, the court heard.

The abuse happened every Thursday and Saturday night, when Crombie had been out drinking.

He entered her bedroom and touched her stomach, legs and bottom while she lay in bed. She believed he had a fetish for stomachs and bottoms, Mr Kelly said.

"(Ms Johnston) said this became as regular as clockwork," Mr Kelly said.

The abuse stopped after the incident with the dog lead, Mr Kelly said.

Shortly afterwards, the relationship between Crombie and Ms Johnston's mother broke down and they split up. Ms Johnston later confided in her mother, who organised counselling for her. She went to gardaí in 2015.

"It has affected my relationship with my sisters, who don't wish to believe the horrific truth of what their own father did to their sister," Ms Johnston said.

Judge Melanie Greally yesterday said it was clear Crombie was satisfying a particular sexual fetish during the assaults and referred to the use of the dog lead as "degrading".

She said Ms Johnston had regarded Crombie as her natural father and that as such the "breach of trust was monumental". She described the abuse as "unrelenting" occurring every Thursday and Saturday.

Judge Greally said having heard the victim impact statement it was clear Ms Johnston would continue to struggle with the "premature loss of innocence" and "blight on her childhood that can never be removed".

She acknowledged Crombie made admissions and spared his victim a trial before she imposed concurrent sentences totalling two and half years.

Irish Independent

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