Three years for defilement of girl (15)

Judge Tom O'Donnell tells court that case is one of the most difficult he has ever had to deal with of this nature

Martin Flynn pictured at Tralee Courthouse
Martin Flynn pictured at Tralee Courthouse

Sinead Kelleher

A Tralee man has been given a three year sentence with the last 12 months suspended for the defilement of a girl under 17 and for sexually assaulting the same girl while she was staying over at his family home at 40 Sunday’s Well, Tralee between July 2 and 3, 2016.

Prosecution Barrister, Tom Rice, told the court that the victim wished to waive her anonymity to allow the court to name the accused man, Martin Flynn, of 40 Sunday’s Well, Tralee who is the partner of the victim’s aunt.

“She has a strong view that the accused be named and does not care if it will identify her,” he said.

The court agreed to remove reporting restrictions.

Judge Tom O’Donnell, told the court on Friday, that it was one of the “most difficult he has had to deal with of this nature”.

Evidence had been heard in the case last July. Mr Flynn, who was represented by solicitor Dave Ramsey, had pleaded guilty to the offences and it came before Tralee Circuit Criminal Court on Friday for sentencing. The court heard that the victim was 15 at the time of the offence and that she had a strong bond with Mr Flynn and his partner, the victim’s aunt, and their three children.

The Judge said that on the night in question the accused had bought alcohol and cigarettes and when the children went to bed the victim’s aunt, the victim and Mr Flynn stayed up.

Mr Flynn’s partner fell asleep and Mr Flynn and the victim went to lie on the trampoline where he forced himself upon her. The court heard that he had tried to use cling-film as a condom. They went back into the house and again he forced himself upon her and put his fingers into her private parts.

She left the following morning and later confided in her father’s partner. She was taken to the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit in Cork where swabs were taken from her underwear and a link was made to the accused via DNA. He was arrested on July 19 and maintained that the victim had consented to his actions and he blamed alcohol and her flirty nature.

Judge Tom O’Donnell said that the victim impact statement was “powerful, poignant and shocking”. He said that the victim has suffered from the assault but also from the reaction of certain members of her family. The court heard that she has been “isolated” by her grandmother and other members of her family and can’t see her cousins any more.

He said that she had got a text saying it was her own fault and that the grandmother had refused to speak to victim and her mother.

“The victim has been unfairly isolated for doing nothing wrong,” said Judge O’Donnell. “Family occasions are fraught with guilt and anxiety because she told the truth,” he said.

He told the victim that she had done nothing wrong and that the accused had committed the offence and it was “unfortunate about the moral compass of the family in dealing with the truth”.

The court was told that it appeared from the probation report that Mr Flynn suggested that the victim was to blame and that she and her mother were out to destroy him and his family because they are jealous.

Judge O’Donnell said Mr Flynn’s action were an “enormous breach of trust”.

He added that this has had a emotional and physical impact on the victim especially because of the way she has been treated by those she thought she could rely on. He said that the early admissions of the accused, though self serving, and the lack of a trial had to be considered.

He said that Mr Flynn had been described as an excellent parent and that he was remorseful but that it was hard to believe this given the probation report.

“His victim blaming continues unabated,” said Judge O’Donnell.

He sentenced Mr Flynn to three years with one year suspended and warned him to say away from the victim and her family for three years and that he be placed on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely.

'It was worth it coming forward - now people believe my daughter'

The mother of a 15-year old, who was sexually assaulted by her aunt's partner has spoken about the anguish and hurt that the family have endured over the past two years.

Last Friday Martin Flynn of 40 Sunday's Well, Tralee was convicted of the defilement of a girl under 17 and of sexual assault. He received a three year sentence with one year suspended. She was 15 at the time and was staying overnight with her aunt and her aunt's partner. 

In court last Friday, Barrister Tom Rice said that the girl wished for the man to be named and did not mind if that also identified her. Speaking to The Kerryman this week her mother said that the public deserved to know what he had done.

 "If she hadn't asked for him to be named he would have gone to jail and no-one would have known. She had gone through hell for the past two-and-a-half years and now it is his hell," she said.

The victim impact statement, which was read into court earlier this year, and which was re-iterated last Friday at the sentence hearing told about the spilt that the attack has caused to the family and how the girl's grandmother no longer speaks to her. Others in the family have also isolated her.

Judge Tom O'Donnell said that she had been isolated by her grandmother and some of her family "because she told the truth".

"My daughter has paid a huge price as a result of Mr Flynn's actions," said the mother. "She has been victim blamed. She trusted him and loved him like an uncle. I also trusted him without a doubt in my mind. He took advantage of the close and trusting relationship he had with my daughter. He was the adult and my daughter was the child," she said.

"We are now trying to put together the pieces of our happy life that we once knew though our hearts are broken and our family will be forever torn apart."

Both her and her daughter however have spoken out to urge other victims to come forward no matter what. It has been a difficult few years but it is has been worth it, they said.

The three year sentence, however, has been criticised by the mother who feel that it is not enough for the "irreversible" damage.

"We feared he would get a suspended sentence. Two years is not long enough for the damage but at the same time we feel lucky that he got that. There is no winner in this."

"It was worth it coming forward. Now people believe her and her voice has been heard," she said.

"I hope my daughters brave decision to speak out will give other victims the courage to come forward. I am so very proud to call her my daughter."

The family also praised the Kerry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre for their support for the family to get through this process.

Extracts from Victim Impact Statement

'To this day I still can't believe that someone I trusted so much could hurt me and take advantage of the close relationship we had. I don't like to think about what happened as it upsets me too much. I don't think I am the same person I was before it happened. Sometimes I think back to all the happy memories I had with my aunt, Martin and my cousins and this really upsets me. I miss the way things used to be.

'At first I was not going to tell anyone because I thought he made a mistake and did not mean it but when he asked me the morning after if I wanted to stay again tonight I felt sick and was worried he would try and do the same thing again. I remember thinking he must think this is ok and that scared me. I felt sick, dirty and disgusting. I felt so embarrassed and was thinking this might be my fault. Maybe I did or said something wrong. I was so scared to tell my mum or dad because I was afraid that they would not believe me.

'At the beginning I could not sleep at night. So for the first couple of months I slept with my mum in her bed. When I closed my eyes it was all I could think about. I would cry every night and have pains in my stomach with worry of what was going to happen.

'I lost half of my family once I told them what he did. My three cousins who I love so much, I am not allowed to see any more. I will never have a relationship with them again. They probably don't even remember who I am now. That is what hurts me the most. I think about them on their birthdays.'

'He did this to me. He violated my trust and took advantage of the close relationship we had. He took away my family; he made me out to be a liar. It took a lot of counselling for me to realise this was not my fault. I feel I am the one paying the price for what he did. When I see him in town, which is a lot, he stares at me and makes me feel sick. Some times I have had to ring my mum to collect me, as I would be so upset after seeing him. I don't go to town as often as I used to, as I'm afraid of walking into him on my own and would be afraid he would say something to me.'

'Going forward I don't think I will be able to trust anyone new in my life. I'm worried for any future occasions like family events on my mum's side if there was a get together my mum and I won't be able to go. My great grandmother recently died and I did not go to the funeral because I was afraid they would be there. I just want this to be over so I can try and move on with my life. My graduation, 21st, all of these events will no longer be the same as I no longer have the family unit and that grew up with. That's gone forever.'