Tuesday 12 December 2017

Man who abused three young girls for over a decade jailed

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Declan Brennan and Isabel Hayes

A man who sexually abused three young girls for over a decade and “stole their childhoods” has been jailed for 12 years.

Dublin man Thomas Kavanagh (66) began molesting one child when she was aged between five and seven and told her it was a normal thing. This later progressed to rape which continued until she was 17.

Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan said that Kavanagh manipulated and controlled all three victims from a young age.

“He destroyed a part of their lives that can't be recovered when he stole their childhoods,” the judge said.

Kavanagh, formerly of Tamerisk Heights, Tallaght but more recently living in Wales, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to 57 counts of indecently and sexually assaulting three victims at locations in county Dublin.

Following a trial, a jury convicted him of 26 counts of rape, seven counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault. The abuse occurred recurrently between 1979 and 1992.

The court heard one of Kavanagh's victims couldn't remember a time in her life when she was not abused by him. She felt “isolated, confused, alone and scared” throughout her early years.

Another victim said she thought no-one would believe her if she came forward about the abuse. She still feels “guilt, hurt, shame and fear” because of the abuse she suffered at his hands.

All three women displayed “great courage and dignity”, Ms Justice Heneghan said. She noted Kavanagh had expressed remorse since the trial and accepted the jury's verdict. He has no previous convictions.

The court heard he has a long work history as a qualified technical driver and, later, a taxi driver. He contributed to the Para-Olympics by providing coach transport.

Ms Justice Heneghan backdated the sentence to February, when Kavanagh was taken into custody.

Additional evidence

The court heard that by the time the youngest victim was in her early teens Kavanagh had begun raping her on a frequent basis.

Garda Brian Hunt told Conor Devally SC, prosecuting: “She was more or less at his beck and call. Incidents might have lasted only ten minutes at a time. All the rest of the time he was amazing to her”.

The victim told gardaí that in all other respects Kavanagh was fabulous, amazing and kind and lavished money on her. She said he treated it as a normal relationship and she had a confused reaction to this.

She started a relationship with a boy her own age because she wanted to see what it would be like to have sex in a normal situation. She had sex with this boy once and when she became pregnant at 14 she didn't know if it was his or Kavanagh's child.

Kavanagh gave her money to travel to England for an abortion. He did the same when she became pregnant again two years later. After each abortion he resumed raping her.

In her victim impact statement this victim said that Kavanagh took away her innocence.

“He made me believe I am worthless,” she said. She said the strongest point in her life was when she told Kavanagh to stop abusing her.

Kavanagh began abusing a second girl when she was aged eight. This woman said she couldn't remember a time before the abuse.

In her victim impact statement she said she felt unlovable and ugly because of the abuse. She said he had never shown any remorse and said she would never accept an apology from him.

“He put his sexual deviances above our rights,” the woman said.

The third woman, who Kavanagh sexually assaulted from the age of seven, said he would get into bed with her and molest her. She said he did this at any opportunity he got.

She said Kavanagh manipulated her emotionally into feeling sorry for him because of his own difficult childhood. She said she was also frightened of him.

She said she didn’t know which was worse; the sexual abuse or the emotional blackmail. “He took my childhood,” she told her court.

After his arrest Kavanagh admitted to gardaí that he had abused the youngest victim at “every chance he could avail off”. He admitted he had sexualised her but denied ever raping her.

A Probation Services report stated that Kavanagh now accepts the jury verdicts and does not intend to appeal them.

Ms Justice Heneghan said while two of Kavanagh's victims were relieved of the burden of having to give evidence, his third victim had to give evidence at trial, which caused her “extreme emotional and sometimes physical distress”.

“She gave her evidence in a dignified manner, with as much dignity as she could summon in her distress,” Ms Justice Heneghan said. “She was courageous, brave and she drew on every ounce of strength she had in giving her evidence.”

Ms Justice Heneghan said she had sat through many rape trials and noted the woman was a “very, very impressive witness”.

Mr Devally told the court that there was no issues as to the naming of Kavanagh but that the identity of the victims should not be published.

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