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Kerry man who raped wife’s niece jailed for ten years

Victim tells court of her long and acute suffering as a result of the abuse perpetrated on her when she was a child: “Every day is a battle”

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A County Kerry man who repeatedly raped his wife's niece 30 years ago has been jailed for 10 years.

The now 41-year-old woman made a report to gardaí in 2019, outlining that her aunt’s husband raped her on a number of occasions, which first started when she was nine years old. She said she used to regularly visit the couple in their family home and often slept in the same bed as them.

She told gardaí that once her aunt got up in the morning, her uncle would turn her on her side, hold on tightly onto her hips and rape her. She often pretended she was asleep during the ordeal, but said she could not get away from him because of the tightness of his grip on her.

The now 61-year-old man pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to four sample charges from a total of 13 charges of raping the girl on dates between 1990 and 1994.

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Passing sentence today (Monday), Mr Justice Alex Owens said “very significant harm” had been done to the victim and that she has suffered “significant psychological symptoms” as a result of the abuse.

Justice Owens said this was not a one-off, nor was it “infrequent or irregular” offending. He said there had been a gross breach of trust and that the man “selected a victim who was young and vulnerable”.

The judge noted the man has a mild intellectual disability and will find imprisonment more difficult as a result. He also noted that the vast majority of people in the man's intellectual cohort do not go on to be “sexual predators”.

He said it was clear there was no remorse here and the man has little empathy for the victim. He noted the man has admitted to having a sexual interest in teenage girls and as a result he cannot regard the man as being at a low-risk of reoffending.

Justice Owens sentenced the man to 11 years imprisonment, but suspended the final year of the sentence on strict conditions, including that he not have any unsupervised access to children.

He also ordered that the man be subject to three years post release supervision by the Probation Service. He said a failure to comply with this order carries a maximum sentence of 12 months imprisonment.

At a previous sentencing hearing, an investigating garda told the court that he was alerted to the allegations when colleagues handed him video files which captured a confrontation the victim’s parents had with the accused man in February 2019.

The previous day the woman had disclosed to her parents what had happened to her as a child. The following day her parents met the man in their local town and asked him if he had sexually assaulted their daughter.

The garda said the man replied that he “probably did. I might”. He was pressed by the couple who said “probably was not good enough”.

The father can be heard saying “I’ll ask you for the last time did you sexually assault my daughter?” to which the man replies “Right so….yes”.

The man was arrested in May 2019 and admitted to gardaí that he “had a cuddle” with the girl and later said “yeah I had sex with her”.

He said he didn’t know what age the girl was at the time, but admitted she was in school. He said he didn’t know if she was in primary or secondary school at that time.

Desmond Dockery SC, prosecuting, told the judge that the man was 30 years old at the time of the offences while the victim was between nine and 13 years old.

Mr Dockery said the “same experience was repeated routinely” where the man would rape the girl first thing in the morning. He never spoke and always held onto her hips “so her efforts to move were futile”.

The offending came to an end when she started a part-time job as a 13-year-old girl and stopped staying in her aunt’s home.

Mr Dockery read the woman’s statement into the record in which she said “I can’t believe that at 40 years of age I can finally talk about the impact (the rapes) have had on me. Every day is a struggle. I am still discovering all the ways the abuse has affected me”.

“Putting it into words feels impossible as it feels unreal. Every day is a battle,” the woman said before she added that a smell or a photo or a word could act as a trigger and she would be “flooded with anxiety and panic”.

She said she often feels suicidal and thinks her family would be better off without her. She finds herself unable to work and she often worries that she won’t be able to function.

The woman said she blames herself so much for what happened and “mentally beats myself”.

She said there has been an impact on her children as they have missed out on having a mother as she is “emotionally unavailable” to them. She has not allowed them the freedom to be children as she worries for them.

“I remain tortured by the abuse. It has left me crippled with shame and guilt. I finally told my husband four years ago as the alternative was to kill myself,” the woman continued.

She said she sometimes feels like she is re-living the abuse and has to re-assure herself on an ongoing basis that she is safe. She suffers nightmares and flashbacks and is often unable to sleep.

“It feels like a life sentence at times and impacts on everything I do,” the woman said.

“I am determined not to be defined by my abuse but I am worried that it will always define me. I want to live my life free from anxiety,” she continued.

She finished her victim impact statement by thanking her husband for his unconditional love and support and thanked the prosecution team and “especially” the investigating gardaí.

The garda agreed with Anthony Sammon SC, defending, that his client’s “roadside admissions” were of great significance to the investigation and that his plea of guilty was a great relief to the victim.

Mr Sammon asked the judge to accept that a probation report before the court concluded that his client was “not quite the full shilling” but acknowledged that he still has the capacity to offend.

He said however, his intellectual functioning does “affect his insight and ability to display remorse”.

“I am instructed to say that he does regret what he has done and has some insight into the damage he has caused,” counsel said.


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