Wexford man jailed for repeatedly molesting his teenage daughter while they watched television

Victim waives her anonymity as her father (71) is sentenced to two years in prison

Wexford Courthouse.

Wexford People

A daughter repeatedly molested by her father almost 40 years ago waived her right to anonymity when the parent’s case came before Wexford Circuit Court.

Thomas Mahon, now 71 years of age, pleaded guilty in response to five charges of indecently assaulting Josephine, now Josephine Furlong, while she was in her teens.

He was in his 30s at the time when he used to sit his eldest daughter on his lap as he watched television in the family home at Clashganny in Castlebridge.

She finally complained to the gardaí about the abuse she suffered in 2018 and the matter was prosecuted before Judge Cormac Quinn.

One of a family of six siblings, she was present at the hearing accompanied by two sisters as their father sat in the dock.

The complainant reckoned that the assaults began when she was 14 years of age and continued until after she turned 17.

Her recollection was that he would put his hand under her clothing and fondle her nipples, skin on skin.

He told her that her mother had inverted nipples, saying this was a condition which could make a woman unable to feed a baby.

He suggested, she stated in her statement of complaint, that the fondling was intended to prevent this happening.

The abuse took place on one occasion in the presence of a friend of the injured party and, on another, when she was in bed.

Most of the groping and squeezing took place, however, while father and daughter were watching television.

As a teenager, she trusted her father, a man who used to drink away most of his dole money.

She eventually rang him in 2018 and told him she intended to report what went on.

Her mother contacted her soon afterwards but the two women have not spoken since.

In a victim impact statement read out to the court, Ms Furlong – now a grandmother – said she still every day feels the effect of what happened.

She said the sexual abuse had affected her relationship with her husband and had made it difficult for her to hug her own children and tell them she loves them.

She added that she had not spoken to two of her siblings since reporting the matter, also cutting herself off from most of the extended family.

She continues to experience guilt and shame at the thought that she allowed him abuse her.

Prosecuting barrister Daniel Boland confirmed that Ms Furlong now wanted it all out in the open and she looked for no press reporting restrictions.

In a letter to his daughter read out by his barrister John Peart, Mahon offered apologies: “I destroyed your life and family,” wrote the defendant. “I have done so much harm. Sorry is not enough.”

Mr Peart looked to avoid custody for his client, revealing that he had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

The court was told that the accused is the principal carer for his 75-year-old wife who requires round the clock minding.

Mahon left school at 14 and married at the age of 17, with his eldest child born in 1969.

He used to drink a lot and was drunk when he assaulted Ms Furlong, to the extent that he did not recall what happened.

Nevertheless, he accepted that he carried out the offences and accepted full responsibility.

He has not taken drink in the past 30 years, the court was informed.

He had no previous convictions and counsel suggested that he was no danger to society, unlikely to re-offend.

Judge Quinn took note of all this but felt that he must imprison Thomas Mahon.

The assaults represented an abuse of trust and they took place over a period stretching from April of 1983 to August of 1985.

The defendant must be sentenced to two years in jail, with the final 12 months suspended.

Sentencing was not finalised, with Mahon allowed six days to put his affairs in order.

After the hearing, Josephine Furlong indicated that she was happy with the outcome.