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Rape victim wins €2.8m – but may never see a cent

A MOTHER-of-three who won €2.8m damages from the godfather who repeatedly raped her is unlikely to receive any compensation, the Irish Independent has learned.

Donegal woman Marcella Breslin (31) sued Patrick Gillespie (54), her godfather and uncle-in-law, for the sexual abuse she suffered while she was 12 to 16 years of age.

Gillespie, from Carrickmagrath, Ballybofey, Co Donegal, was jailed for 10 years in 2008 with three years suspended after being convicted of the rape and sexual assault of Ms Breslin in his home and in forests.

After deliberating for nearly two hours at the High Court in Dublin yesterday, the jury of nine men and three women awarded €1.2m in aggravated damages, €1m in exemplary damages and €600,000 in general damages.

However, Gillespie, who is still in prison and was not represented in court yesterday, is unlikely to pay any money.

In a statement, Ms Breslin's solicitor, Grattan Butler, from DP Barry & Co solicitors in her home town of Killybegs, said he was anxious to clarify that his client would not receive the sum awarded in court.

"While Ms Breslin is delighted with the assessment by the jury it will be a matter for her, and us as her legal advisors to try and realise assets on her behalf from the very limited assets of Mr Gillespie, which will be an extremely difficult task," said Mr Butler.

"This does not in any way detract from the significance of the award that was handed down by the jury representing the general, aggravated and exemplary damages caused by Mr Gillespie to Ms Breslin for the terrible years of rape and abuse."

He added: "Ms Breslin is a young lady with three young children who leads a very modest life and it is of the upmost importance that she does not incur any further unnecessary stress with any misrepresentation of the award."

It's understood Ms Breslin will not face a legal bill as a result of the case.

Earlier, in his address to the jury, Richard Lyons, SC for Ms Breslin, asked them to award aggravated and exemplary damages with a figure which "accurately reflects the horror story" and told them they were putting "a price on a stolen childhood."


The court heard that Gillespie, as Ms Breslin's godfather and uncle-in-law, was in a position of trust.

The assaults had a profound and lasting effect on her and she tried to take her own life when she was 16, the jury was told.

The criminal case against Gillespie had caused a rift in the extended family.

In evidence, Ms Breslin said that when she was 18, she was in New York when a retired garda approached her to sign a piece of paper saying she was dropping all the charges against Gillespie.

"I was absolutely frightened to death to be followed to America," Ms Breslin added.

Irish Independent