Thursday 22 February 2018

Waterford man jailed for abusing his young nephew and niece

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Stock picture

Conor Gallagher

A Waterford man has been jailed for 13 years for sexually abusing his nephew in the 1980s and raping the victim's sister a decade later.

The victims were aged four to five when their uncle began abusing them.

The abuse came to light after the youngest victim went to gardaí in 2012. Shortly afterwards her brother also made a complaint.

The brother explained in a victim impact statement that he wanted to come forward sooner “but the words would just not come out.” He said the abuse stayed secret “until my little sister said the dreaded words.”

“I will have to ask myself for the rest of my life why I kept the abuse secret,” he said. “My siblings will suffer for the rest of their life but at least we will no longer suffer in silence and that is because my sister was brave enough to speak out.”

His younger sister, who was four when her uncle started molesting her, told the court she would think of ways to kill herself almost every day as a result.

“It impacts every single part of your life,” she told the court. “Trying to describe what it does to you is like trying to describe colour to a blind person. It's a massive secret you feel you have to keep to yourself.”

She said that she fell into drug and alcohol abuse and nearly tore her family apart. She is now in a stable loving relationship but that “a word or a song can bring me right back to that horrible place.”

She said that no sentence will give her her childhood back.

“Being sexually abused should never be hidden,” she added. “The truth always comes out in the end.”

The 47-year-old accused pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape, oral rape, sexual assault and indecent assault on the two victims between 1988 and 2003 in Waterford.

The man, who cannot be named to protect his victim's identity, has a mild intellectual disability and there were some initial doubts as to whether he was fit to stand trial on the charges. A doctor's report stated he might not cope well with time alone in his cell.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said the young woman's victim impact report made grim reading and that the abuse had a “grievous effect” on her but that she seemed to be an extremely brave young woman.

He said her brother's statement showed his regard for his sister and said he should not feel guilty.

He said the most striking feature of the case was the young age of the complainants when the “horrific abuse” began. He said one could readily envisage the extreme pain the young girl had suffered as a result of the rapes.

Mr Justice McCarthy imposed consecutive sentences totalling 13 years and ordered three years post release supervision.

During the sentence hearing the court heard that in one garda interview the accused man admitted molesting his niece but when pressed said this involved rubbing shoulders with her while they were dancing.

A local garda said the man started abusing his nephew in the late 1980s when the boy was five or six years old. Most of the incidents occurred when the boy was sent up to the accused's bedroom to get him out of bed.

He began molesting and raping the girl a decade later when she was visiting the house.

Defence counsel Colman Cody SC said the man has lived a very sheltered, isolated life and has never had a job. He asked the judge to consider the man's guilty plea which saved the victim's the stress of a trial.

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