A man who was raped and sexually assaulted by his uncle over 30 years ago has told a court that flashbacks to the offences are a “constant nightmare” in his head.
The accused, who cannot be named to protect the anonymity of the complainant, pleaded guilty to one count of rape and two counts of sexual assault committed in the north-west of the country on dates between 1987 and 1993.
The 60-year-old man was sentenced on Friday at the Central Criminal Court to six and a half years in prison, with the final 12 months suspended.
The court heard that the man initially denied the offences but later pleaded guilty last December to three sample counts after a jury had been empanelled for his trial.
At the sentence hearing, Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring said the three charges were sample counts for a series of abuses carried out when the victim was aged between seven and 13. She described the offences as “not only crimes, but breaches of human rights at their most basic”.
She said the accused had been a trusted family member who should have been a source of “guidance, protection, kindness and love,” but instead had abused that trust and power relationship, especially since he was 18 years older than his nephew.
The judge said the abuse was “a fundamental breach of a child’s bodily integrity, the invasion of a child’s body, in the most depraved way”.
'All I want is to forget'
Earlier this week, the injured party read out his victim impact report, which he said was for the child he was 30 plus years ago who never got the chance “to speak out and say no”.
The 42-year-old man spoke of the misery, hurt, anger, pain, disgust and “internal agony” he has suffered ever since the offences, which he tried so hard to hide.
“The flashbacks are a constant presence, a constant nightmare in my head, trespassing in my mind when all I want to do is forget,” he said.
“My inner child simply can’t forget,” he said, adding that the memories had got stronger and stronger until he could no longer stay silent.
“Every peaceful moment is ruined by these images. I want to be free, I want to live my life without fear that this could happen again. I want my inner child to know that it wasn’t my fault,” he said, to applause from the courtroom.
Ms Justice Ring expressed the hope that the time and effort given by the victim to healing the effects of the abuse will lessen the pain of his suffering.
She noted that the guilty plea had given the victim a level of comfort, but said this must be measured against the decades of turmoil he has suffered and carried in silence.
Giving evidence to Fiona Murphy SC, prosecuting, Detective Garda Seán Barrett said that the victim went to gardaí three years ago to make a complaint.
The victim told gardaí he was aged between seven and 10 when the first offence occurred while his uncle was babysitting him.
The man said his uncle let him stay up later than his siblings to watch TV, and that while he was sitting on the sofa, his uncle put his hand under his pyjamas and touched his groin and testicles.
The man said he remembers that his uncle had moved the sofa to block the door to the sitting room, which struck him as odd at the time.
He said his siblings were not happy that he had been allowed to stay up later and so they were trying to get back into the room, which was frustrating his uncle.
He said the second incident took place when he was aged 10 or 11 and had been babysitting for his uncle on New Year’s Eve.
He said his uncle drove him home after he was babysitting but first took him to an area close to the house where he rubbed the boy’s groin and unzipped both of their pants.
The victim said his uncle showed him his penis and coerced him to suck it. He said the feeling of the erect penis in his mouth “felt wrong”.
He said his uncle touched his penis and made a strange comment about the size of it.
The third incident took place between 1991 and 1993, when the boy was aged between 11 and 13 and was staying in his grandparents’ house.
He said he was in his uncle’s bedroom when the accused bent him over and penetrated him anally with his penis, causing a sudden and very sharp pain.
The victim went to gardaí in May 2019 and the accused was arrested that month.
He denied any involvement but when a fresh charge was entered last December, he pleaded guilty on his trial date to the three sample charges and was placed in custody.
The court heard that the man has previous convictions, including seven counts of sexual assault on the son of his wife from a previous relationship. Following a trial, he was sentenced in 2019 to two years in prison, with six months suspended.
Michael Bowman SC, defending, said his client had brought a letter of apology to court which the injured party was free to accept or reject.
He said that his client had acknowledged that he contaminated his relationship with his nephew in the “most egregious way” and had breached his trust.
A probation report said the accused has shown genuine remorse and has signed up for a Better Lives programme aimed at treating sexual offending.
Mr Bowman said although his client has been placed at medium or high risk of reoffending, his last sexual offence was over 20 years ago and he has shown a willingness to engage in any rehabilitative programmes as directed.
The court heard that the accused is on an enhanced regime in prison.
Mr Bowman said his client, who had a continuous employment history before going into custody, has very little contact with his family members and has been effectively disowned by his own children.
“He lives in a very considerable degree of isolation,” said Mr Bowman.
Ms Justice Ring set a headline sentence of eight years but gave the accused what she described as “limited credit” for his late plea of guilty, his letter of remorse and his good behaviour prior to these offences.
She backdated the sentence to December 13th last year and ordered the accused to comply with all directions from the probation service for 12 months on his release from custody.
Justice Ring wished the victim good luck and thanked his family and friends for attending court with him.
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. In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.