Monday 23 September 2019

Horse trader jailed for sexual assault of girl who 'dreamed of being a vet'

Stock photo
Stock photo

Aoife Nic Ardghail and Sonya McLean

A horse trader has been sentenced to nine years in prison for the rape of a young girl who came to work with him because she dreamed of becoming a vet.

The now 41-year-old woman told the Central Criminal Court that John Phelan (54) changed the entire path of her life when she took a summer job with him looking after animals on local farms.

The woman, who waived her anonymity so that Phelan could be named, said the job she had taken hoping to prepare for her future instead led to the end of her dreams.

Phelan, of Kilbricken, Mountrath, Co Laois, pleaded guilty to four charges of sexual assault and two of raping the woman when she was aged between 14 and 16 at various locations in Laois, including at his home, on dates between 1992 and 1993.

He entered pleas after the trial had begun and the woman had given her direct evidence, but before she underwent cross-examination.

Sentenced

Phelan, a married father of two, served a seven-year sentence from 2008 for raping and sexually abusing a young girl in 1989 and 1990.

Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy had adjourned sentencing after hearing the evidence last July. She said a probation report before the court stated the officer found it "difficult to accept Phelan's assertion" that he didn't have a sexual preference for under-age girls.

"He took her innocence, her virginity and her dreams of becoming a vet," she said.

Ms Justice Murphy said she felt it was most likely Phelan pleaded guilty after hearing the victim's evidence because "he sought to rescue what he could from the wreckage".

The judge sentenced Phelan to nine years in prison with the final 18 months suspended. She ordered that Phelan serve a three-year post-release supervision.

Irish Independent

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