Man jailed for two years after sexually assaulting daughter's friend

A local detective said the man sent a text message to his wife saying he had touched the girl’s breast, and he was sorry
Man jailed for two years after sexually assaulting daughter's friend

Sonya McLean

A man who sexually assaulted his daughter’s best friend while the child was staying in their family home has been jailed for two years.

The now 54-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the then 16-year-old girl, sent a sexually explicit text message to the girl after she left the room she had been in with him and went upstairs to his daughter.

The girl showed the message to the accused's daughter and told her that he had just sexually assaulted her.

She went downstairs and confronted her father, who then left the home and drove to a nearby pier with the intention of dying by suicide.

A local detective told Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, that the man sent a text message to his wife saying he had touched the girl’s breast, and he was sorry.

He said he was “no paedo”, told her there was enough money to clear the mortgage, and that she could have his pension.

Gardaí and the RNLI were later called in to encourage the man to come back from sitting on the rocks at the pier, after he threatened to take his life by jumping into the sea.

Explicit message

The man, who described himself later to gardaí as a functioning alcoholic, has since left the family home.

He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of sexual assault and a charge of sending an explicit message to a child at his then-home in Dublin on a date in August 2020. He has no previous convictions.

On Wednesday Judge Elma Sheahan said that the man's repeated and persistent efforts to sexually assault the victim was an aggravating factor, as were the words spoken and sent in text messages to her.

The court heard he told the child “you have a nice pair of tits” as he fondled her breasts while she asked him to stop and tried to remove his hand. Judge Sheahan said these words spoken “added insult to injury”.

She said the victim was terrified by the attack, which has continued to cause distress, hurt and damage to the child. She noted the breach of trust placed by the child in her friends' father.

She set a headline sentence of four years. She noted a number of mitigating factors included the man's genuine expressions of remorse and shame, his guilty pleas, and his own psychological vulnerabilities.

Therapy and treatment

James Dwyer SC, defending, asked the court to note a psychological report which stated the offender does not have a sexual attraction to children and was acting impulsively while under the influence of alcohol.

Judge Sheahan reduced the sentence to two and a half years and suspended the final six months on condition he engages with therapy and treatment for that period.

In her victim impact statement, read out in court at a previous hearing by her mother, the victim said she felt constant fear that she would run into the defendant and was allowed to leave school ten minutes early each day, so she would not have to see the man pick up his daughter.

The girl spoke of how she struggled with an eating disorder in the aftermath of the assault because she felt having the body type she had was why she had been assaulted.

“I will never feel comfortable in my body. My body was not to blame, but it has become a constant reminder of the pain,” the teenager said.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800 77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help.

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