John Twomey: being led away to prison yesterday
A LONG-distance truck driver who indecently assaulted his wife's four younger sisters was jailed for 12 months yesterday.
John Twomey (62) indecently assaulted the four siblings when they ranged in age from just five to 15 years, and later insisted to arresting gardai it was just "a bit of tomfoolery".
The assaults took place over a 15-year period in the 1970s and 1980s.
Cork Circuit Criminal Court was told the offences have totally destroyed the family -- with two other sisters and Twomey's wife siding with Twomey; while the rest of the family, including the women's elderly mother, support the victims.
The four sisters -- Fiona, Regina, Carol and Yvonne O'Connell -- welcomed the sentence last night and said justice had been done.
"It is a very emotional day for all of us," Fiona O'Connell told the Irish Independent. "Today, after years of anguish, we have seen that the Irish justice system does work. Our lives have been torn apart by John Twomey but from today we can start piecing them back together."
Fiona O'Connell revealed that each sister thought they were the only one abused by Twomey, and the scale of the assaults only came to light years later when all the sisters were away together on a shopping trip.
Fiona, who was receiving counselling at the time, told her sisters about what had been done to her. She was shocked when three other sisters revealed that Twomey had also targeted them.
"I would like to have accepted his apology today but for the fact that he has been laughing in our faces, even laughing in the face of our elderly mother," she said.
"What kind of remorse is that? It is disgusting. But justice was done for us here today and we are absolutely thrilled with the sentence," she added, stressing that all four victims agreed to be named so that Twomey's identity would be revealed and people would know precisely what he had done.
Det Garda Garry Duggan said Twomey, a father-of-two of Station Road, Ballincollig, Co Cork, admitted 16 counts of indecent assault and four counts of sexual assault between 1972 and 1986.
The assaults, which took place at various locations in Cork, ranged from Twomey sliding his hand under their blouses and feeling their breasts to putting his finger inside their underwear and then their vagina.
One sister was given 50 pence by Twomey after each indecent assault.
Twomey told the court he was deeply remorseful for what he had done.
"To the members of my wife's family I am truly sorry for what they have gone through and what they are going through here today," he said.
"I am sorry for breaking up the family -- I am truly sorry, your honour, for all of this."
Judge Sean O Donnabhain said the offences warranted a custodial sentence.
"One of the things that can never be restored is innocence -- that is something you interfered with for them," he said.
He imposed a three-year prison sentence on Twomey but agreed to suspend the final two years. He also directed that Twomey be included on the sex offenders register for 10 years.