Sunday 20 October 2019

'My body shut down, I zoned out': uncle jailed for raping his niece (12)

Stock photo
Stock photo

Sonya McLean

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

Yesterday, the 65-year-old man, who is from Co 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, also from Co Westmeath, told gardaí that from the time the abuse began, when she was eight, it would happen once or twice a week.

"Sometimes he would just rub my face or hair but he never left me alone," she said.

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 to be over. I would pick something to look at and just zone out," the woman told gardaí.

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 from her.

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 took her own life.

"I thought this world would be a better place without me," she said.

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 when she saw the man and felt in fear for herself and her children.

The woman added: "I refuse to be his victim any more 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.

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

Irish Independent

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