Monday 21 October 2019

Man jailed for eight years for sexual abuse of niece

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Sonya McLean

A Westmeath woman told gardaí she “zoned out” and “my body just shut down” when her uncle raped her, as a 12 year-old-girl, following years of sexual abuse.

Today her uncle, a 65-year-old who is also from Westmeath, was jailed for eight years at the Central Criminal Court after he pleaded guilty to five sample counts of indecent assault, two sample counts of sexual assault and a single charge of rape on dates between July 1986 and December 1992. He has no previous convictions.

The now 40-year-old woman told gardaí that from the time the abuse began, when she was eight years old, it would happen once or twice a week. “Sometimes he would just rub my face or hair but he never left me alone.”

She outlined an incident of rape to gardaí which she estimated happened when she was 12 years old. Her uncle was on top of her and she could get an “overpowering smell of body odour”.

“My body just shut down and I wanted it be over. I would pick something to look at and just zone out,” the woman told gardaí. She described feeling claustrophobic because of the weight of him and said she was sore and bleeding afterward.

The woman described still using the same technique of zoning out today when she finds a situation difficult and said it was “a survival instinct”.

She stated in a victim impact report, which was read out in court, that her uncle preyed upon her and her innocence and childhood were taken away from her.

The woman described herself as a happy light hearted little girl, before the abuse, who loved to play with her siblings.

She said she felt “very much alone and in a dark place”, she hated looking in the mirror and in later years started drinking to numb the pain. She described having trust issues and said she found it hard to deal with relationships.

The woman said she suffered severe depression and almost committed suicide. “I thought this world would be a better place without me,” she stated.

She said she still lives close to where her uncle lives and would see him every day while she is doing her usual errands. She described an enormous frightening feeling in her body when she saw the man and felt in fear for herself and her children.

The woman concluded her statement by saying that since making the complaint she has attended counselling. “I refuse to be his victim anymore and I am looking forward now to the rest of my life.”

Mr Justice Paul McDermot said the offences “blighted and dominated her childhood” during the time that he was a visitor to her home and babysat her.

He said the aggravating factors were the victim's age at the time, “she had to endure this behaviour between the ages of eight and 14 years old”. He described her victim impact report as “clear and eloquent”.

Mr Justice McDermott said the man had effectively groomed his niece and abused the position of trust he had been placed in.

He sentenced the man to eight years in prison and ordered that he undergo three years post release supervision during which time he is not to have any contact, either directly or indirectly with the woman or her family.

The man must also engage with the Probation Service upon his release and undertake any courses as recommended by them.

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