Sonya McLean & Brion Hoban
A Co 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, starting 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 to 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.
Passing sentence on Monday, Mr Justice Alex Owens said “very significant harm” had been done to the victim, adding 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" and "I might". He was pressed by the couple who said “probably was not good enough”.
In the recording, the woman's 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 did not know what age the girl was at the time, but admitted she was in school. He said he did not know if she was in primary or secondary school at that time.
Desmond Dockery SC, prosecuting, told the judge 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 and stopped staying in her aunt’s home.