A Cork man who sexually assaulted his sleeping younger sister several years after raping her as a child has been jailed for four years.
The man (38), who cannot be named for legal reasons, raped his younger sister in their family home while he was aged between 12 and 14 years old. The man was 21 years old when his sister woke up to find him removing her clothes and sexually assaulting her.
The man was convicted following a trial in the Central Criminal Court in April 2021 of a single count of rape in the family home in Co Cork on an unknown date between November 25, 1995 and January 17, 1998.
He was also convicted of sexual assault at the same address on an unknown date between March 19, 2004 and November 23, 2004. The man had pleaded not guilty to both offences. He has no previous convictions.
The court heard that at the time of the rape, the victim was aged between eight and 10 years old. The victim was 16 years old at the time of the sexual assault.
A local detective told Thomas Creed SC, prosecuting, that the victim gave evidence that the accused man called her up to his bedroom in the family home and raped her.
The victim's older sister came into the bedroom during the incident, took her out of the room and then brought her to the house where she was living at the time.
The detective said the victim gave evidence that she believes she was 16 when she fell asleep on a couch in her home and woke up to find her brother pulling down her pants and sexually assaulting her.
The victim got up, challenged her brother and immediately left the house. She met with a friend and disclosed the incident to her.
In her victim impact statement, which she read before the court, the woman said that as a young child she remembers being a happy girl, but that all changed when she was raped by her brother.
The woman said that at the time she “did not truly understand what had been done to me”, but that she knew it was wrong as her sister came in and took her out of the room. She said it should never have happened and it made her feel “ashamed, worthless, dirty”.
She said that coming forward has brought all the emotions and shame to the fore. She said that after keeping the secret for years, she finally feels like it had been removed from her shoulders.
Colman Cody SC, defending, told the court that while his client's acknowledges the verdicts of the jury, he still maintains his innocence.
Mr Cody said there has been a significant lapse of time between the events and their being reported to gardaí. He said there was no evidence to suggest his client had attempted to deter or prevent the victim from making a statement.
Counsel said that given his client's “essentially unblemished record” in that time and his having set down roots, the court can be satisfied this is not a man who poses a danger to anyone in the future.
Mr Cody submitted this is not a case in which a custodial sentence should be imposed and the interests of justice can be met in other ways.
Mr Justice Michael White said he wished to pay tribute to the victim in this case. He said he saluted her for having the courage to come forward.
Mr Justice White said the most serious aggravating factors were the breach of trust and that the victim was a young child. He said the victim is of the view that if she had not woken up during the offence of sexual assault, the crime would have been more serious.
He said the court has to give due consideration in this case to the sentencing principles that apply when sentencing an adult for crimes committed as a juvenile.
Mr Justice White said there has been no acknowledgement of his guilt by the accused man. He said the most significant mitigating factor is the man's age at the time.
He said if the court had been dealing with the offence of rape alone committed when the accused was a juvenile, it is likely a non-custodial sentence would have been applied. He said if he was dealing with just the sexual assault, then a short custodial sentence would have been imposed.
Mr Justice White sentenced the accused man to four years imprisonment.