A Cork security guard who sexually abused his younger sister for nearly two decades has been jailed for six and a half years.
Andrew Healy (45), of Garrane Darra, Wilton, Co Cork, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to 16 counts of sexually assaulting the child on various dates between 1992 and 2009. The court heard the complainant in the case wished to waive her anonymity.
The abuse began when the girl was aged around four or five and Healy was aged 15. It took place mostly in their family home in Ballingcollig, Co Cork.
Healy also pleaded guilty to attempted rape of the child at their home in Cork.
Some of the sexual assaults were carried out at a second location in Co Cork, and one offence took place in late 2009 at Healy's flat at Brentwood Court, White Oaks, Wilton, Cork.
Detective Garda Craig Peterson told Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, that the offending first came to light in early 2017 when the victim went to gardaí.
She told investigators that her older brother had sexually molested her on an almost daily basis and on any occasion he could get her on her own. When Healy later moved out of the family home, he became more opportunistic, the court heard.
The woman told gardaí that during the first incident of sexual assault she was scared and told her brother that she wanted her father.
When the girl was aged seven, she fought back by kicking Healy in the face and he told her: “The more you fight, the longer it will take.”
Healy told her: “Stop fighting and let me do it and I will leave you alone” and when she continued to struggle, he pinned her legs down and molested her. She was crying and asking him to stop, but he continued and only stopped when he heard someone arriving at the house in a car.
The final offence in 2009 took place when the victim was staying at Healy's flat in Wilton and awoke to find him molesting her.
'I thought it was normal'
After his arrest, Healy told gardaí: "I thought it was normal, it's far from right." He said he was himself sexually assaulted, but he later declined to make a formal statement of complaint, Dt Gda Peterson said.
The detective agreed with defending counsel, Jane Hyland SC, that when the family first heard about the allegations of abuse, Healy tried to hurt himself and was admitted to a psychiatric ward.
In her victim impact statement, the woman said that she knew at the time that what her brother was doing was wrong. She said she used to hide under her bed, but he would find her and drag her out.
“He threatened me, he said he would hurt me more and my friends too. He said nobody would believe me.
“I was just a little girl. I was afraid he would rip me apart. I felt crushed,” she stated.
The woman said her life fell apart as a result of the abuse, and she ended up on anti-depressants and suicide watch. She paid tribute to her “very understanding” husband. She has fears about her children being abused, the court heard.
Sentencing the man on Monday, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said it was “significant offending over a notably long period”. “When a young child is offended against in this way, their life is irredeemably changed,” he said.
He noted that coming forward about the abuse had been cathartic for the woman, who now knows that “the truth is out there”.
The woman said that when she first told her family about the abuse, some of them called her a liar. She thanked one brother for his continued support.
She told her abuser: “You ruined my life” and said he caused her to lose trust in men. She said she was afraid to have friends as a teenager in case her brother began abusing them.
She told Healy that he no longer had control over her life and that she will never forgive 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.