Thursday 17 October 2019

Man jailed for two and a half years for sexual assault of 13-year-old babysitter

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

Declan Brennan

A man has received a two and a half year sentence for the sexual assault of a 13 year old girl who was babysitting his grandchild.

The 62-year-old Dublin man had denied sexual assault of his neighbour on a date in August, 2001. A jury found him guilty after a trial last month at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

At the sentence hearing today Fionnuala O'Sullivan BL, prosecuting, told the court that the complainant wished to waive her anonymity but said there is a pending decision in the High Court around whether she can in fact do this.

In that case lawyers for a Wicklow child rapist have argued that a complainant cannot waive the statutory anonymity. Justice Micheal White has said he will rule on the matter later this month.

Ms O'Sullivan told the court that pending this judgment nothing can be published that would identify the complainant. She said the case can be re-entered after the judgement if necessary to clarify the issues.

Garda Michelle Nolan told the court today that in March 2016 she began an investigation after the woman, then aged in her 20s, made a complaint about a sexual assault by her then neighbour in August 2001.

She had lived with her family at an address in the Dublin area where the man and his family also then lived.

The woman told gardaí she was babysitting his three year old grandson and stayed over in his home. She had slept the night in a box room and in the same bed as the toddler when the man came into her the next morning.

She said he leaned over and tried to kiss her before touching her genital area. He then left and when he met her again elsewhere in the house he told her “I'm sorry”, the court heard.

He later denied the allegation and denied making the apology.

Judge Elma Sheahan suspended the last four months of a two and a half year sentence and backdated the sentence to May 13, when he went into custody.

The judge noted that the victim had to live beside her attacker for over a decade after the assault. She said there was a breach of trust because the victim had viewed the man and his family home as a safe place to go to.

In a victim impact statement the woman said the assault had a profound psychological effect on her and made her feel worthless.

“I felt dirty, like I had done something wrong,” she wrote. She was twice referred to her GP as an emergency case because of suicidal thoughts.

James Dwyer SC, defending, said his client now accepts the jury verdict and wants to apologise to the woman. He said the defendant apologised a number of times to her around the time of the offence.

The woman told her mother very shortly afterwards and they met with him and his wife. During this confrontation he admitted the assault and said he did it because he loved the girl, Gda Nolan said.

The woman and her mother went to gardaí in 2001 but no file was ever sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions and the 2016 investigation was unable to establish if a formal statement had ever been made.

A referral was made to the HSE from the local garda station and no intervention was carried out.

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