Thursday 21 November 2019

'I'll never trust another person like the trust I had for him' - Man jailed for raping niece (14)

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Isabel Hayes

A Dublin man who raped his 14-year-old niece twice in her bed when she was living with him has been jailed for eight years.

In a victim impact statement handed in to court, the now-19-year-old victim said she would never trust another person like she had trusted her uncle. She said she bottled up what he did to her for years.

“I looked at the world like it was a dull, horrible place and I would be better off dead,” she said.

The 49-year-old married father and grandfather, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victim, continues to maintain his innocence, the Central Criminal Court heard.

His wife and children continue to support him and described him as a caring father whose grandchildren “adore” him.

He was found guilty by a jury of two counts of raping his niece between January 1, 2012 and April 1, 2013 following a trial in the Central Criminal Court in June this year.

Handing down a nine-year sentence with the final year suspended today, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said the man subjected his niece to two “nasty, violent rapes” when she was still a child. The judge said the man used a degree of force and instilled fear in his victim.

“It was a breach of trust of a vulnerable 14-year-old girl,” the judge said. “He took full advantage of her living away from her family.”

The man had shown no remorse, the judge added.

Detective Garda Michael McGrath told Mary Rose Gearty SC, prosecuting, that the girl was living with her uncle and extended family members in 2012.

“She and he got on very well,” Ms Gearty told the court.

One evening, the pair were sitting on the couch watching TV together when the girl dozed off. She woke up to find her uncle pulling at her pyjama bottoms before he told her: “It's time for bed”.

The girl ran upstairs to her bedroom and got under the blanket, before she heard her uncle following her upstairs and entering the room. She struggled to get away from him but he grabbed hold of her hands and raped her, the court heard.

The girl felt “dirt, shame and disgust” afterwards, Ms Gearty said. “She felt she should have been stronger and fought.”

Between three and four months later, the girl woke in her bed to find her uncle on top of her, raping her. She had been wearing pyjamas when she went to bed but was completely unclothed when she woke up.

She moved out of the home shortly afterwards.

Towards the end of 2012, the girl's mother noticed a “massive change” in her daughter. She was crying all the time and not showering, the court heard.

The girl told her mother her uncle had “tried it on” but said no more then that. She eventually confided in her mother in 2014 and made a statement to gardaí.

When interviewed by gardaí, the man repeatedly denied the allegations against him. He said he had not taken his niece's virginity and said she had lost it to her boyfriend.

He told gardaí he tended to go to the pub every evening after work and would drink around 14 pints, but he said he would come home “merry” rather than drunk.

He has 37 previous convictions, entirely for road traffic offences.

In her statement, the victim said she became deeply depressed in the wake of the rapes.

“I felt like I had nothing to live for, like I was just existing,” she said. “I'll never trust another person like the trust I had for him.”

She said she had lost family relationships as a result of what her uncle did to her, including her cousin to whom she was particularly close.

She said she stopped showering because “no matter how many times I washed, it never went away”.

Defence barrister, Giollaíosa O Lideadha SC, said his client continues to maintain his innocence in relation to the charges against him.

He handed up a number of letters of support from his wife and children. His wife of over 25 years said she was “totally shocked and saddened” to hear of the allegations against him. She asserted her belief in her husband's innocence.

His daughter said her father was her best friend and always would be.

Mr O Lideadha requested legal aid for an appeal, which was granted.

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