Saturday 16 December 2017

Man who sexually abused young cousin while babysitting her is jailed for seven and a half years

The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin

Fiona Ferguson

A Sligo man who sexually abused his young cousin while babysitting her has been jailed for seven and a half years.

The 28-year-old man, who can not be named to protect his victim's identity, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to sexual assault of the child on a date between 2007 and 2010.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy noted that the man was an alcoholic and had a dysfunctional background, but said the lateness of his guilty plea afforded him only “modest credit”.

Garda Kevin O'Hora told Garnet Orange SC, prosecuting, that the victim and the accused both came from an extremely dysfunctional background and the accused would occasionally babysit the victim while the child's mother was out drinking.

The child was later removed to the care of an relative due to neglect. The relative became concerned about the child following a conversation they had and she contacted gardai.

The child was interviewed by specialist gardai and disclosed an incident. She said it happened when she was four or five years old.

The accused man has a number of previous convictions and is an alcoholic and drug abuser.

The child's relative prepared a victim impact statement on her behalf. She said the accused man had taken the child's innocence and the girl was worried about things no one her age should be. She said she suffered terrible nightmares and was worried people would not believe her.

She said the girl was cautious about new people, struggled in new surroundings and her relationships with men had been impacted by bad memories coming back. She said the girl had gone through “torture” and she was worried she would continue to bottle up her problems.

Tara Burns SC, defending, said she had been instructed by her client to apologise to the victim.

She said he came from a broken family and had a difficult upbringing. He has never worked in his life and has a severe drinking problem.

Ms Burns said this was a terrible offence but he was a person capable of compassion and had opted to face up to his actions. She said the man had great difficulties of his own and asked the court for some light at the end of the tunnel.

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