Monday 19 March 2018

Retired guesthouse owner molested niece (11) when she was on holidays from US

Dublin Central Criminal Court
Dublin Central Criminal Court

Declan Brennan

A retired guesthouse owner has been jailed for 18 months for the sexual molestation of his 11-year-old niece when she visited from America.

John Prior (68) molested the child on two occasions in 1985 while she was on summer holidays visiting Irish relatives in Leitrim and Dublin.

Prior of Orchard Lane, Herbert Park, Ballsbridge, Dublin had denied five counts of indecent assault of the victim at Hartley House, Merrion Road, on dates between July 1 and August 31, 1985.

After a trial earlier this month a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court convicted him of two counts but failed to reach a verdict on the three remaining charges.

On the first occasion the girl asked to accompany her uncle to the shops to get food for guests at the bed and breakfast he owned. During the car journey to the shops Prior began asking the victim about sex and told her that women were sluts and were like rabbits, she told the trial.

She said he became aroused and grabbed her wrist and put her hand on the outside of his trousers. Afterwards he told her they would have a special relationship.

On another occasion Prior was watching a programme about a girl who had been raped when the child was present. He put his hand down her underwear and rubbed her.

The now 42-year-old victim gave evidence during the trial and was cross-examined on the basis that Prior said none of these things happened. She was not present for the sentence hearing today but Seamus Clarke BL, prosecuting, read her victim impact report out.

She said suffered post traumatic stress disorder from the abuse and was hospitalised with a panic attack a year later. Detective Garda Stephen Homan told the court that Prior has no other convictions.

Judge Nolan said this was a tragic case involving assaults which have had profound effects on the victim. He said the events have led to great disharmony within the family.

The judge said that every sexual assault is a serious assault but Prior's offences couldn't be deemed the most serious.

John O’Kelly SC, defending, said his client had been a very successful business man. He said the widower had shared his success by dividing his pension among a number of charities.

Judge Nolan said that Prior was a charitable man but he had abused his position of trust and had isolated the victim. Mr Clarke told the court that the victim was waiving her right to anonymity.

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