Wexford People

| 18.4°C Dublin

Former street sweeper molested three young sisters for eight years

A 72-year-old Wexford town man who sunjected three young sisters to sexual abuse over an eight-year period is due to be sentenced at Wexford Circuit Court this Thursday.

Former Wexford Borough Council street sweeper, John Nugent, of 35 Barrack Street, faced 105 sample charges of indecent assault and sexual assault of the girls between 1987 and 1995. He pleaded guilty to a total of 38 counts with the remainder taken into consideration.

The court was told that his victims had decided to come forward after suffering years of torment as a result of the abuse, with one of the sisters even contemplating suicide.

Wexford Circuit Criminal Court was told on Friday last that the abuse occurred in the home of the defendant who lived alone, The victims would undertake errands for the man while their mother carried out cooking and dusting for him.

The court heard that Nugent molested the three girls when they were as young as six, and it continued up until they were 12. In a victim impact statement one of the sisters described a pattern of abuse which would occur every two to three days until she was eleven.

One of the victims described how she was 'daddy's girl' but that 'following what had happened to me I was no longer able to accept my daddy's hug. 'When I was growing up I was always told to respect my elders but there were people out there who did not respect children.'

A second victim described how she had nightmares 'of him, his house, of my mam and dad who had died'.

'I also took tablets hoping I would never wake up. I would see him on the town, I would feel intimidated and ashamed, but he is the one who should have felt ashamed and disgusted. He should have felt ashamed and disgusted at having stolen my childhood. I got married and had children, but promised this would never happen to them.

'One of the biggest turning points was when he turned up at the wake when my dad died. I was glad my dad never knew what had happened. He came over to shake my hand but my brother removed him. Later when my sister broke what had happened to my mother, she was shaking. She had to be sedated.

'Today I feel lonely, there is an emptiness inside me, I have no confidence and unable to retain relationships. At times I feel depressed, feel numb, suicidal, feel as if I cannot take any more, I have felt suicidal but would not contemplate carrying this out because of my children.'

One of the sisters said she was molested before her First Holy Communion and describing a pattern of abuse twice a day.

As the victim impact statements were read into court by Prosecuting Counsel, Sinead Gleeson, on Friday, Nugent's victims sat together and wept, supported by family members.

The court had already heard harrowing evidence from Garda Brendan Leamy who interviewed the three sisters and the defendant.

It was revealed that Nugent had told the sisters: 'No one will believe you. Your mam and dad will die of shock if you tell them'.

At the time of the abuse, the girls lived nearby and ran errands for Nugent, who was then in his 40s. They would call and collect money before walking to the shop to buy cigarettes for him.

In a statement made at Wexford Garda Station to Garda Leamy in 2014, one of the sisters said that on one occasion Nugent pretended he had her youngest sister, who was just a toddler, in his house in order to scare the girl and lure her inside to protect her sister from him.

She said: 'But she wasn't in there and then he locked the front door and put the keys in his pocket. He grabbed me and threw me down on to the sofa and I hit my head off something. He told me there was no point in fighting it, that this is going to happen. He said if I let him he wouldn't touch my sisters. Before he said that I was screaming, crying, and saying,"let me go", but then I just lay there.

Another sister said: 'I remember my Communion and feeling so special, like a princess in my dress. The feeling of being special was replaced by fear. He stole my childhood and any good memories I had.'

Ms Gleeson, for the prosecution, said the court could impose up to ten years on the indecent assault, with five years on the sexual assault charges. Philip Sheahan, for the defence, argued that the defendant had no previous convictions, and that his age should be taken into account, as he will carry this stigma for the rest of his life and have his name on the Sex Offenders Registrar. He said that while two reports before the court suggest a risk of re-offending, it should be taken into consideration that Nugent is in the latter part of his life.

Mr Sheahan said the defendant had worked up to recently as a council employee sweeping the roads.

He said that the defendant's father had died when hewas at a relatively young age and he was reared by his mother on her own. He had attended St. Joseph's School in Clonmel due to his reluctance to attend school. He worked in England for a period, and later returned to Wexford, where he got married late in life.

Mr. Sheahan said Nugent lives with his wife, but at one point had lived with his sister when he was ejected from the house when the matters before the court first came to light. His wife's children from a previous marriage had shunned him.

Mr Sheahan said that his client had entered a guilty plea and was under no illusion that a custodial sentence would follow. The consequences for him are clear, he is going to prison, he said before asking the court to take into account the length of time since the offences,

Judge Cormac Quinn said there were a number of reports to examine. Remanding Nugent in custody, he said he would deal with sentencing on Thursday (November 16).

The victims asked that reporting restrictions be lifted so their abuser could be named, but said they did not want their own names released.

Wexford People