Thursday 30 March 2017

Victim describes herself as a 'fighter' as man who sexually abused three young female relatives is jailed

The Central Criminal Court (stock photo)
The Central Criminal Court (stock photo)

Fiona Ferguson

A Meath man who sexually abused three young female relatives has been jailed for 14 years.

The man's first victim was a cousin he raped after telling her he had something to show her in the woods. He later went on to sexually abuse two of his nieces in their grandparents house.

The 43-year old man, who cannot be identified to protect his victims identities, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to representative counts of rape, sexual assault and anal rape on dates between 1989 and 2001.

The accused man was 16 when he raped his 13 year old cousin in 1989 and was in his twenties when he later abused his two nieces when they were aged approximately eight to 13 years old.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said the children were preyed upon by the accused man over a period of time. He said the effects on the victims had been devastating but they appeared to be people of great resilience and determination.

He said a risk assessment of the accused placed him at moderate risk of re-offending. He noted the man had indicated his willingness to undertake courses in prison including the building better lives project directed at sex offenders.

Mr Justice McCartney imposed consecutive sentences totalling 14 years.

In her victim impact statement the elder niece said she told her mother that the accused had been interfering with her but her mother took his word that nothing had happened.

She said her sense of family was gone and she had issues trusting people. She found it hard to connect with people and did not feel safe. She is now protective of her own children.

The younger niece said the abuse had a devastating impact on her life. She said she felt a lot of anger as a teenager and looked for reasons to take it out on others. She said she felt she did not have a childhood like other children and her family was no support to her.

She said her life changed when she became a mother and if it were not for her own child she felt she would be in prison now due to her anger issues. She said the abuse caused her pain and heartache but she was learning how to control her feelings.

The accused man's cousin told the court that the abuse had also changed her life and she went off the rails before telling her mother who believed her and got her counselling. She said the abuse had destroyed the family and turned her world upside down.

She said she had come through the other side with the support of her mother and described herself as a “fighter.”

Roderick O'Hanlon SC, defending, said the accused man had a good work history. He said the complaints had been made within the family at an early stage but a decision was taken not to proceed at the time so there was a considerable gap between then and coming to court.

He said the accused man had been “trouble free” since then and had accepted responsibility for the offences. He said the man was very remorseful and willing to comply with any supervision orders the court makes.

Mr O'Hanlon said the accused man had been well respected in his family and community but all of that had come to an end as a result of having committed these offences.

A local garda told Patrick McGrath SC, prosecuting, that when the eldest niece was about eight the accused man used to straddle her and make rhythmic motions. The accused man later admitted to gardai that he had “dry rode” his niece once or twice.

The abuse progressed to the accused man inserting his finger in her vagina and rubbing his penis against her face. She said that the accused man attempted to have vaginal sex with her. During garda interview the accused man admitted having anal sex with her.

His abuse of his younger niece began with inserting his fingers into her vagina before progressing to vaginal and anal rape. The garda told the court a complaint was made by this girl in 2004 but it appeared for family reasons the complaint was not proceeded with at that time.

The gardai told that the accused man's cousin had come forward to make a complaint in 2014. She told gardai that in 1989 when she was 13 years old and the accused man was 16 years old she had met him in town. He told her he had something to show her in the woods where he raped her.

She said he told her it is “our little secret.”

She recalled further instances over the years where he asked her to touch his penis or put his penis into her mouth. He also masturbated in front of her on other occasions.

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