Thursday 13 December 2018

'You'll answer to God' - Man's message to uncle who sexually abused him 'like an animal'

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Ruaidhrí Giblin

A Dublin man who repeatedly abused his two nephews when they were small boys has had the length of his prison sentence upheld by the Court of Appeal.

James Maher (64), with an address in Cherry Orchard Green, Ballyfermot, in Dublin, had pleaded guilty to six counts of sexually abusing his nephews at various locations in Dublin between January 1980 and March 1984.

They were aged between eight and 13 years old, and six and seven years old respectively at the time of the offences, while Maher was in his 20s.

Maher's two nephews waived their right to anonymity so that their uncle could be publicly named. One of them described how Maher abused him “like an animal” and both brothers described turning to drugs as a way of coping with the pain of the abuse.

One of his nephews said he had considered murdering his uncle in the years since he was repeatedly sexually abused as a child. “But that would be letting you off easy,” he told his uncle. “Here I stand, not as a victim. I’m free, you’re caged. You’ll answer to God and you’ll answer to granny and granddad.”

The brothers had waited until the passing of their grandparents before making a complaint as they were worried about the impact on their relatives, the Court of Appeal heard.

Judge Patricia Ryan gave Maher an effective nine year jail term but suspended the final year on account of his age, health issues, guilty plea and lack of previous convictions.

Maher lost an appeal against his sentence today with the Court of Appeal holding that an eight year jail term was within the range available.

Giving judgment in the three-judge court, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said the offending was particularly serious and some of it was “especially reprehensible and shocking”. It was premeditated, systematic and prolonged.

He said the effects on the nephews were detrimental and long term. All of these factors combined to place the seriousness of the offence on a very high level.

Mr Justice Mahon said the range of custodial penalties available to the sentencing judge was in the region of six to nine years and a net eight year term fell within that range.

That being so, Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice John Hedigan, said no error in principle had been identified and the appeal was therefore dismissed.

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