The High Court has awarded €450,000 in damages to a woman whose life "was ruined" by a man who sexually assaulted her over a ten year period.
Mr Justice George Birmingham today said the appropriate amount of damages former accountant Bernard Delaney must pay Sinead McCarthy Garofalo for the abuse he inflicted on her throughout her childhood was €450,000
The Judge said her account of what had happened to her before and after the abuse was harrowing. The abuse she suffered had "devastated and blighted every aspect of her life", he added.
As a result of the abuse she had run away from, found it difficult to form relationships with other people and had ended up abusing alcohol and taking drugs, the Judge said.
The abuse had effected not just Sinead but also her parents and her children, the Judge added.. He said Sinead's siblings are all high achievers, and he had "every reason" to believe that she too would have done well in life had it not for been "for the intervention of Bernard Delaney."
Ms McCarthy Garofalo (45), Palmerstown Wood, Dublin, sued Delaney, over sexually abusing her on numerous occasions at various locations in Dublin, beginning in 1972 when she was aged four and ending ten years later in 1982.
As a result, she says she has suffered from depression and alcoholism and has been unable to form meaningful relationships with other people. The court also heard she suffered from anorexia nervosa and cancer which she believes is linked to her abuse.
She was unable to attend court for this mornings ruling due to illness.
Delaney, with an address at Oaktree Lawn, Castleknock, Dublin was sentenced to five years imprisonment at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in 2008 after he pleaded guilty to sexually and indecently assaulting seven girls during the 1970's and 1980's. The former accountant was released from Arbour Hill Prison more than a year ago.
In addition to the criminal complaints made against Delaney, Ms McCarthy Garfofalo instructed her solicitors Howard Synnott and Company to bring a civil claim against Delaney.
Delaney, now aged in his seventies, had not opposed the action and the case came before the courts yesterday for assessment of damages only. Delaney was not present during the hearing. Following the courts ruling a lawyer on behalf of Delaney asked to address the court, however the Judge refused the request ruled he had no right of audience.
Barrister Richard Kean SC for Ms McCarthy Garfalo said anything put before the court on Delaney's behalf would "add insult to injury."
In evidence on Thursday, Ms McCarthy Garfofalo said Delaney was well known and was trusted in her locality and by her parents.
The abuse began when she was very young and stopped when she was in her teens, she said. Her life "went off the rails" as a result. It was many years later when she, and others, first made a formal complaint about Delaney.
He "stole my childhood, and others as well," she said.
She told the court she blamed herself for what had happened to her and the abuse had made her feel worthless. She was unable to bond or form proper relationships with others and, during adolescence and adulthood, got involved in what turned out to be abusive relationships.
On one occasion she came across Delaney while in Dublin city centre and ran away because she was so upset.
She said her family had been "brilliant" to her. The worst thing for her was that her parents blamed themselves for what had happened to her but it was not their fault, she said.
While she hoped "things will get better", she often felt "it's never going to be ok". It is "hard to keep your hopes up," she said.
Psychologist Dr Kevin Lambe, who has provided counselling to the plaintiff, said her life had been badly affected by the abuse suffered. She had abused alcohol and drugs from a young age and was involved in chaotic relationships.
Dr Lambe said he has counselled hundreds of victims of abuse but this case was "in the top three" in relation to the degree of suffering as a result of the abuse.
In his ruling today the Judge said Sinead's belief there is a link between her cancer, and other illnesses, and her abuse was not not something the court should dismiss.
Mr Justice Birmingham also told the court the evidence from Dr Lambe, in particular the comment that he ranked the abuse Sinead suffered as being in the top three cases he had dealt with was "telling".