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I have tears inside that can fill ocean: rape victim

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Sonya Stokes speaking to media outside court yesterday
Pic: Court Collins.

Sonya Stokes speaking to media outside court yesterday Pic: Court Collins.

Court Collins.

Sonya Stokes speaking to media outside court yesterday
Pic: Court Collins.

Sonya Stokes speaking to media outside court yesterday Pic: Court Collins.

Court Collins.

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Sonya Stokes speaking to media outside court yesterday Pic: Court Collins.

A RAPE survivor has told how hearing a guilty verdict against her attacker was "like a tonne of bricks lifted from my heart".

Sonya Stokes has waived her anonymity to urge other victims of abuse to come forward.

"Don't let this ruin the rest of your life, or brush it under the carpet like many people have done for so many years," she said.

Ms Stokes said she suffers flashbacks, stress and anxiety as a result of the abuse.

"I feel so cold and lost. I cry for the pain and hurt he caused. I have tears locked inside that could probably fill an ocean."

Ms Stokes was speaking ahead of the sentencing of her uncle, Joseph Hogan (61).

After a trial last month a jury convicted him of one count of attempted rape, three counts of rape and three counts of indecent assault at a house in Co Limerick between December 1984 and December 1988. He had pleaded not guilty.

Senior counsel Paul Greene, prosecuting, told the Central Criminal Court that Ms Stokes (37) was waiving "her entitlement to anonymity".

Mr Justice Paul Carney declared Hogan a sex offender and said "the two most fruitful sources of mitigation, a plea of guilty coupled with genuine remorse and previous good character" were unavailable to him.

Mr Justice Carney said the rape offence "merited" 15 years in jail and imposed 10 years for the attempted rape and eight years for the sexual assault counts. All sentences will run concurrently.

In a victim impact report read into the court record in the presence of Ms Stokes, she said Hogan had stolen her childhood from her.

"His sick, twisted mind stole my innocence forever, my childhood, my teenage years, my dignity, my trust in relationships," she said.

The court heard that in 1973 Hogan was jailed here for six months for an indecent assault of a similar nature. In 1974 he was convicted in Britain of the indecent assault of a girl aged under 14.

He returned to Ireland with his wife and they had a number of children.

In 1995 and 1998, Hogan was convicted for indecent assaults committed after the abuse of Ms Stokes.

Additionally, he was jailed for 22 months in March 2013 for breaches of orders under the Sex Offenders Act by living in houses with children in 2007 and 2009.

Hogan - of Rose Court, Keyes Park, Limerick - first raped his niece sometime in 1984 after placing her on a washing machine in a utility room in his home.

Impact

Other rapes took place in an outdoor shed and in the living room while there was another baby in the house.

In imposing sentence Mr Justice Carney said he was taking into account the breach of trust involved in the case, the "inherent gravity" of the crime, the period over which it extended, the multiplicity of charges, the impact on the victim, "her age at the time and the disparity in age between the two".

Outside court Ms Stokes said: "It feels great because now I know that no other child will actually be raped or abused by this man. Over 35 or 40 years this man has got away with abusing so many children.

"This is why I waived my rights (to anonymity) because for all these years he's been put behind bars and he's never been named and shamed," added Ms Stokes.

Irish Independent