Saturday 24 August 2019

DPP says 'it is not in best interest' of girl (12) to have her rapist cousin identified

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Sonya McLean

A 12-year-old girl has expressed a wish to have her cousin, who raped and sexually abused her, identified in the reporting of the case because she wants people to know that “he is in the wrong.”

Alice Fawsitt SC, prosecuting, told Mr Justice Michael White that she had told the child she would convey her wishes to the court, but her instructions from the Director of Public Prosecutions were that it would not be in the girl's best interest to have the 22-year-old man named.

"She is very angry and wants people to know that he is in the wrong," Ms Fawsitt said, before adding that the DPP believes the man's identification would cause "complications" for the girl.

"It is inevitable that she would be identified. It is a small community and everyone will know and it will follow her in her teenage years," counsel continued.

The man pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to six charges including rape, oral rape, anal rape and sexual assault on dates between November 1, 2011 and June 26, 2016, in his Co Cork home.

He has no previous convictions.

The girl was first abused when she was five years old and she ultimately told her mother about it when she was nine. The accused was aged between 15 and 19 at the time.

During the abuse, the teenager raped his cousin vaginally, anally and orally and used a wand she had just been gifted, to abuse her. He also drank the child's urine.

Mr Justice Michael White revoked the man's bail and remanded him in custody before he adjourned sentencing to June 21, next. He said there would be "a substantial custodial element to the sentence."

Addressing the child's wishes to have the man named, Mr Justice White said he appreciated the girl was angry.

He acknowledged that a guilty party loses anonymity on conviction but said the court also had "a wider duty to ensure that the identity of an injured party would be protected". He said in this case the naming of the accused would "tend to identify her".

Mr Justice White said he would "pay tribute to her courage in disclosing these horrific crimes" when he is pronouncing sentence later this month, but added that it was "not in her best interest to accede to her request to name him".

Earlier, the child's mother read a victim impact statement into the record on behalf of herself, her husband and her daughter.

She said her statement was prepared to "convey the damage to our daughter and our family" when the accused "raped and sexually abused our girl from the age of five".

The mother outlined how as the family they had gone through hell, before speaking about an incident during which her daughter was abused by her cousin with a wand.

"She was thrilled when she got a present of that wand, little knowing that within hours it would be inserted into her body to abuse her."

The woman described her daughter's "courage and bravery to tell us what was happening," adding "our lives fell apart."

She said the disclosure of what had happened was horrendous and outlined her daughter being tested for a sexually-transmitted infection at the age of nine.

"I just wanted to lie down and die so the pain would stop. I could not do this because my other children and my husband needed my support," the woman continued.

She said she then made "a silent pact to get through this nightmare" not fully comprehending how hard it would be.

The woman said she lost "years of hugs and cuddles" because her daughter would freeze up. She said her other children's little sister, "their little ray of sunshine" who had been funny, witty, outgoing, sometimes annoying and "huggy" had gone.

"The light had gone from her," she said before she described the girl as now being "anxious, distrustful and awkward around affection".

She also described her "extreme guilt" and said she would never forgive herself for "being the one who allowed her to stay" (at her cousin’s house).

"Her father would say that it is a father's job to protect his child," she said before adding that he would "never get over the feeling of the being the one who dropped her there where she suffered the abuse".

She said her husband has a "constant sick feeling and is heartbroken". He trusted the man's house was "a safe place and that our daughter was loved there".

He feels that the abuse destroyed his daughter's innocence and childhood and their marriage is "not in a good place".

The child indicated in the victim impact statement that family members of her cousin were not talking to her.

The mother concluded her statement by saying that she was "very proud" of her daughter and she and her husband would do their best to help her to go on to lead a normal life.

The woman also thanked her brothers and sisters "who have stepped in on days when I was unable to cope" and thanked the gardaí for their help and support.

A local garda told Ms Fawsitt that gardaí were contacted in June 2016 when the child first disclosed the abuse to her mother.

The accused was arrested the following October but denied raping the child. He made some admissions in a later interview stating that he had got her to masturbate him but again denied raping her.

Thomas Creed SC, defending described the offences as "horrendous" and said his client had since demonstrated his remorse and acknowledged that he had destroyed his cousin's life and that of their families.

Counsel described his client as "socially isolated". He said he "suffers low mood" and had made a number of attempts on his life.

Mr Creed said a probation report concluded that his client did not have predatory behaviour but needed assistance to develop appropriate adult relationships.

He had also indicated a willingness to engage in any treatment recommended to him while in prison.

Counsel told the court that it would be "hugely helpful" to give the various reports prepared on behalf of his client to the prison authorities “so any intervention deemed relevant could be provided, to help him re-integrate into society when he is released”.

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