Sunday 15 September 2019

Rapist given another year on jail term for sexual abuse of girl (11)

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Stock photo
Eimear Cotter

Eimear Cotter

A horse trader and serial sex offender has been jailed for a further year for the sexual assault of a young girl, whom he offered small amounts of money to keep their "secret".

John Phelan (54) was sentenced to nine years in prison last month for the rape of a girl who came to work with him because she dreamed of being a vet.

He also has a conviction for the sexual abuse of a third girl, dating back to 2008.

At Laois Circuit Court yesterday, Judge Keenan Johnson imposed a further 12-month sentence, consecutive to the current jail term.

Judge Johnson said Phelan's behaviour involved a gross breach of trust, and by offering the girl money to keep what happened a secret it was clear he was trying to manipulate her.

The woman has waived her right to anonymity so that her attacker can be named.

Phelan, of Kilbricken, Mountrath, Co Laois, was found guilty by a jury of two counts of sexually assaulting the then 11-year-old girl on dates in 1992 and 1993.

He was 28 years old at the time.

The court heard that Phelan had called to the girl's home and asked if she would help with some farm work.

He drove to the entrance of a field and as she went to climb over the gate he put his hands down her top and groped her breasts. He then offered her a pound, saying she was not to tell anyone.

On a second occasion, Phelan again fondled her and tried to force her to perform oral sex.

She resisted and refused to perform the act. The court heard the young girl then started to walk towards her home, which was miles away.

Phelan followed her and left her home. He offered her five pounds not to tell anyone.

The woman, who is now in her 30s, described herself as a survivor in her victim impact statement.

She said she was "confused and terrified" at the time, as the facts of life had not been explained, but she knew what happened was very strange.

She kept the abuse a secret for many years, but this had "tortured" her, and she had acted out as a teenager and had suffered with mental health problems.

Judge Johnson said the victim had been through a horrific experience, and he appreciated the stain the trial process had put on her.

When imposing sentence, Judge Johnson said the aggravating factors were the not-guilty plea, the abuse of trust and the impact the abuse had on the woman.

A mitigating factor was that Phelan now appeared to accept what he had done and regretted his actions.

Irish Independent

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