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Young woman waives right to anonymity as brother (30) is jailed for rape and sexual assault

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Aoife Farrelly (21), outside the Central Criminal Court after the sentence hearing for her brother Cian Farrelly (30) who was jailed for 3 years for rape and sexual assault. Photo: Collins Courts

Aoife Farrelly (21), outside the Central Criminal Court after the sentence hearing for her brother Cian Farrelly (30) who was jailed for 3 years for rape and sexual assault. Photo: Collins Courts

Aoife Farrelly (21), outside the Central Criminal Court after the sentence hearing for her brother Cian Farrelly (30) who was jailed for 3 years for rape and sexual assault. Photo: Collins Courts

A professional musician has been jailed for three years for the rape and sexual assault of his sister which began when she was six years old.

His sister Aoife Farrelly (21) waived her anonymity so he could be named.

In sentencing Cian Farrelly (30), of Kells Road, Oldcastle, Co Meath but originally from Ballymanus, Castlepollard, Co Westmeath, Justice Paul McDermott said he had “destroyed” his sister Aoife Farrelly’s life.

The abuse took place between December 2007 and May 2009, when she was aged between six and eight years old.

Ms Farrelly waived her anonymity in the hope by doing so she would give courage to other victims of abuse and deter offenders like her brother from committing crimes against children.

Speaking outside court Aoife Farrelly said her brother had silenced her for too long and she wanted other victims of such abuse to see her face and be inspired to come forward.

The court heard that Farrelly was eight years older than his sister Aoife and she was often left in his care as the family were deeply involved in sport and music.

Cian Farrelly raped her and sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions between 2007 and 2009 when he aged between 15 and 17.

In 2009, Aoife, then aged eight, informed her parents about the abuse. They confronted Cian Farrelly and he made limited admissions and the abuse did not recur.

In her victim impact statement, Aoife Farrelly said she did not blame her parents but hated they did not understand the deeply traumatic effect the abuse had on her.

Cian Farrelly had been allowed to slot back into her life and due to Covid, she had been trapped in the family home with him due to the lockdown.

“Unlike you I am not at fault and will no longer allow you to take up space in my head.

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“Goodbye Cian,” she said in her victim impact statement, adding she hoped she would never see or hear from her brother again.

Farrelly pleaded guilty and Mr Justice Paul McDermott outlined the evidence today.

He said this was the repeated rape and sexual assault of a very young child who was “helpless, isolated and alone” and involved a significant degree of violence.

The court heard harrowing details of Aoife Farrelly screaming and trying to resist the abuse but was physically overpowered by her brother who placed his hand over her mouth to stifle her screams.

Justice McDermott said Farrelly was well aware that what he was doing was wrong but had to take into account his age and his level of maturity at the time of the offending.

And he could not sentence him as severely as he would if he had been an adult.

He sentenced him to four years and six months and suspended the final 18 months.

Outside the court, Aoife Farrelly said no sentence would have been long enough for her brother.

But she said today was the start of the rest of her life.

She said the abuse and its effects had been horrific, but she had been adamant she wanted to waive her anonymity.

“I'm a lot more content now than I was,” she told reporters. “No sentence would have been long enough at all....but just hearing the headline sentence was enough for me.

“I always said it had to be three to five (years). That was what I had in my head and I got that. When I got that I just broke down because everything I sacrificed for years has finally made it all worth it.”

Ms Farrelly said she was determined not to let the abuse define her. “I am Aoife Farrelly, this happened to me but it's not going to define me anymore. Today is the start of the rest of my life and I am so grateful that I finally got my little piece of justice that I needed to keep going.”

Sentencing

Sentencing Farrelly today, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said Ms Farrelly's childhood was destroyed and she was deeply affected by the abuse inflicted on her by her brother.

“There was a significant degree of violence which made the assaults all the more terrifying for a small child in the family home,” the judge said.

He said Ms Farrelly was brave enough to articulate what was happening to her when she confided in her mother about the abuse, but that she then largely had to deal with the consequences of the abuse and was left with a “sense of deep betrayal” and a “loss of trust in others”.

The judge said that had he been dealing with the adult abuse of a child, he would have set a headline sentence of 10-15 years. But he noted the court must deal with Farrelly as a child, given that he was a teenager at the time of the offending.

During the sentence hearing, the court heard that as a child, Ms Farrelly confided in her parents about the abuse. Her parents then confronted her brother and the abuse stopped.

Ms Farrelly later made a statement to gardaí in October 2020 about the pattern of abuse perpetrated on her by her brother.

Victim impact statement

In her victim impact statement, Ms Farrelly outlined the effects the abuse has had and continues to have on her life including self-harm, disordered eating, anxiety, stress and OCD. She says she has undergone counselling, psychotherapy and inpatient treatment for PTSD.

She said she did not blame her parents for what had happened but hated that they did not understand the weight of what he had done. She said her brother had been allowed to slot back into her life.

She described how she had dreaded sitting with her family at the dinner table seated beside Farrelly and had been “basically trapped” in the family home with him due to Covid.

She said she had initially feared speaking about the abuse in case she was taken from her parents. She said her brother had silenced her for years, saying the abuse had to be “our secret.”

She outlined how she had loved music, singing and dancing but now feels sick to the stomach and refuses to touch her instruments as it reminds her of Farrelly.

“He has torn my whole world apart and I have lost everything because of him,” she said.

She said her education had also been deeply affected by the abuse and after reporting the offences in 2020, she had to drop out of college due to the sheer amount of stress. She feels this is another thing her brother has taken from her.

She outlined how intimate relationships had been “ruined” by the abuse and her relationship with her parents was impacted. She said she hopes they can reconcile and hopes her brother is no longer part of her life.

Cian Farrelly took the stand at the end of the hearing to apologise to his sister. He told her he knew it wouldn’t mean much to her now but he was sorry for the hurt and pain he had caused.

“I destroyed our family and you and anything it meant for me to be your brother,” he said, “I hope you can rise and come out stronger than before.”

Defence counsel handed a number of reports into court including a probation report and a report from forensic psychological services. She said it was recommended Farrelly attend specialised counselling in relation to sexual self-regulation.

She said it had not been possible to do a risk assessment as he had been under 16 years old when the offending started. She said he had expressed remorse.

The defence said Farrelly had hearing difficulties and had been bullied at school. She said he was described as very introverted and makes no effort to build new relationships.

She said the sexual abuse had been a maladaptive attempt to achieve intimacy. Reports outlined Farrelly was a vulnerable child who went down a path with the most terrible consequences for himself, his sister and his family, the court heard.

Additional evidence

Detective Garda Fidelma Madden told Dean Kelly SC, prosecuting, that the Farrelly household had been a busy one, with the family actively involved in sports and music activities in the local community as well as running a farm. At times, Ms Farrelly would be left in the care of her brother.

Ms Farrelly described how when she was about seven, she had burned her finger and Farrelly had put it in his mouth which she thought was weird. Later that week she said he asked for a hug, had her straddle him and moved his crotch against her while fully clothed.

She described how in further incidents her brother had made her stroke his penis and had raped her.

She said on occasion, he had pushed her legs up to her ears and took pictures of her vagina. She outlined how during some incidents she had felt unable to breathe, with her brother’s thumbs on her neck.

She said the abuse always started the same way, with her brother whispering she was the best girl.

Farrelly was arrested after Ms Farrelly made a statement to gardaí and he made admissions when interviewed. He accepted he had taken photographs of her for the purpose of masturbation, but said he did not leave them long on his phone.

Defence counsel said the parents were in a “horrible situation” trying to support both children and there had been a lot of conflict in the family. She said Farrelly had written a letter at that time as a very confused and vulnerable person asking for help and that the parents did the best they could.

Helplines: If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, click here for more information


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