News Courts

Monday 25 March 2019

Woman sexually abused by her father awarded €2.2m damages

A woman has been awarded €2.2m in damages against her father after he sexually abused her as a child. (stock photo)
A woman has been awarded €2.2m in damages against her father after he sexually abused her as a child. (stock photo)

Tim Healy

A woman has been awarded €2.2m in damages against her father after he sexually abused her as a child.

The woman, now in her 30s, also claimed her father, who said the abuse never happened, facilitated similar abuse by neighbours and others, both in the family home and in other houses in their area.

She claimed that, as a result, she has suffered serious psychological and emotional damage throughout her life. After a six-day trial, the jury found her father did commit an act or acts of sexual abuse resulting in injury and damage to her.

It assessed general damages at €1.6m and aggravated damages at €600,000. Mr Justice Michael McGrath gave a decree for €2.2m plus costs against the father who is a retired public servant and was represented in the case under the free legal aid scheme. The woman, who cannot be named by order of the court, let out a brief cry when the verdict was announced. She was accompanied by her partner and another woman.

The father sat motionless and was alone as he had been throughout the trial. He had denied any of the events ever happened. He said he had not asked any of the named people also accused of the abuse to give evidence on his behalf because they would have been "absolutely horrified" at having to come to court.

The woman told the court the abuse happened in the 1980s until her mother took her and her sister to a women's refuge. The children were later put into foster care after the woman told social workers her mother also abused her.

The court heard that two years after they left the family home, when she was eight, she gave a statement to gardaí outlining the alleged abuse. A file was sent to the DPP who decided not to prosecute because, the court heard, the children were too young.

After seeing her father by chance in 2009, she decided to make a complaint to gardaí as an adult. But again the DPP decided there would be no prosecution. At that stage, she decided the only way to make her father responsible was to bring the High Court civil proceedings.

Irish Independent

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