A JUDGE who controversially jailed a businessman for six years for a garlic import scam has allowed a man who sexually assaulted two of his nieces to walk free.
Judge Martin Nolan imposed a three-year suspended sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court -- and said the publication of Aidan Farrington's name will be punishment in itself.
Farrington (45) of Iona Drive, Glasnevin, Dublin 9, abused his victims on three separate occasions. It came to light when an apology letter was found by one of the victim's parents.
The father of four pleaded guilty to sexually abusing one niece in 1995 in his mother's home and abusing another in 1998 in his own house and again in 2001 in a Kilkenny hotel.
Garda Eimear Callanan told prosecuting counsel Fiona Murphy the first incident happened after the then 22-year-old victim was on a work night out which Farrington also attended.
She was staying in her grandmother's house where Farrington lived. He came into the room and performed oral sex on her as she lay crying.
He said sorry and told her: "I must have been sleepwalking."
In 1998, another 18-year-old niece was babysitting in Farrington's house when called her into his bed, asking for "a cuddle". He began to touch her genital area and when she told him to stop, he apologised and said he thought she was his wife.
The third incident happened when the victim awoke in a hotel room to find him with his hands down her underwear. He said sorry and again thought she was his wife.
The Court heard the women still suffered the consequences every day.
Farrington's wife took the stand and described him as a "magnificent person and the absolute rock of the family".
The court heard he runs a successful car dealership.
Judge Nolan said the abuse was very serious but "the seriousness of the assaults themselves do not mandate a custodial sentence".
He said were lower down the scale compared with other cases that come before the court.
"This will be a punishment in itself," the judge added. "He will be rightfully held in public odium for what he has done."
Farrington was not added to the sex offender's register as the victims were over 18 and a suspended sentence was given.
Ellen O'Malley-Dunlop, CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, said it was "obviously a serious case if the DPP sent it to the criminal court. So to suspend the sentence sends out a very mixed message".
Earlier this year, Judge Nolan jailed Dublin food importer Paul Begley (46), for six years for failing to pay €1.6m in tax due on Chinese garlic.