Farmer guilty of sexually assaulting four girls
A 59-YEAR-OLD farmer was found guilty yesterday of sexually assaulting four girls.
John O'Connell, of Kilally, Castleisland, Co Kerry, had denied all 29 charges of sexually assaulting the girls at various locations on dates between July 2002 and October 2008 when they were aged between 10 and 15. The victims are now aged 18, 19, 22 and 23.
Judge Carroll Moran said it would be inappropriate to sentence O'Connell yesterday and remanded him in custody until the April 20 sitting of Tralee Circuit Criminal Court.
The State objected to bail.
It took the jury almost seven hours to finish their deliberations and return a majority verdict on all 29 counts.
Three of the victims who were present in court wept as the verdicts were read out. One of the victims was not present to hear that O'Connell had been convicted of all 17 charges that related to her.
She had told the court that she was first sexually assaulted by O'Connell about one month before making her Confirmation, when she was in fifth class.
She said the abuse had continued over the next four years, sometimes a number of times each week. She said she endured the abuse for four years before she confided in a family member.
During that time she said she lost a lot of weight, was angry all the time and used to self-harm.
Mr O'Connell, who also worked for Kerry County Council's water services, is not related to any of the women.
He had protested his innocence throughout the trial and told gardai the girls were "making up lies". He claimed the allegations had been made to get money and told the court that one of the girl's fathers said to him that he would "get all his money off of him".