Saturday 22 July 2017

Woman gets €2.8m for years of rape by godfather

Tim Healy

A WOMAN who was raped and sexually abused by her godfather between the ages of 12 and 16 has been awarded €2.8m damages by a High Court jury.

The award to Marcella Breslin includes €1.2m in exemplary damages, €1m in aggravated damages and €600,000 general damages.

Ms Breslin (31), Emerald Drive, Killybegs, Co Donegal, had sued Patrick Gillespie (54), Carrrickmagrath, Ballbofey, Co Donegal. Gillespie, who is serving a prison sentence, did not participate in the proceedings. He was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment, with three years suspended, after being convicted of rape and sexual assault of Ms Breslin in 2008.

In her High Court action, Ms Breslin claimed Gillespie deliberately and knowingly perpetrated acts of sexual assault and sexual abuse on her between 1993 and 1997 at his home; in forest areas of Co Donegal and once at her grandmother's house at Athayvooge, Killybegs.

It was claimed the abuse began as intimate touching and graduated to full sexual intercourse. While Ms Breslin did what she could to prevent rape, she claimed Gillespie overpowered her physically and psychologically and the abuse continued for some four years.

As a result of deliberate physical and sexual assault and deliberate and wilful trespass to her person, Ms Breslin claimed she sufferd personal injuries, loss and damage.

The case opened yesterday before Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne and a jury of nine men and three women and concluded today with the award of €2.8m damages.

The jury heard Gillespie was Ms Breslin's godfather and uncle-in-law and Ms Breslin would stay in his house and was close to his wife, her aunt.

The assaults began when Ms Breslin was aged 12, cousnel for Ms Breslin, Sasha Gayer said.

Gillespie had also brought her a local forest area where he would rape her.

The abuse had a profound and lasting effect on Ms Breslin and she had tried to take her own life when she was 16 years of age, the jury was told. The criminal case against Mr Gillespie had also caused a rift in the extended family.

In evidence, Ms Breslin said on Friday nights when her friends were thinking about what to wear going out, she would go home because Gillespie called between 6.30 to 7pm and would take her to a forest and rape her, before dropping her home again.

"I would meet my friend after and she would be trying to decide what to wear. I was thinking I wish that was all of my problems," she said.

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