Two brothers have been jailed for the rape and sexual assault of a younger brother in the family home in Cork over 30 years ago.
The 46-year-old man pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to a total of 15 charges of both sexual assault and anal rape, while his 44-year-old brother pleaded guilty to a total of 13 charges of both sexual assault and anal rape on dates between May 1990 and December 21st, 1993.
The victim was aged between seven and 10 years old at the time of the offending, while his brothers were teenagers.
Mr Justice Paul Burns sentenced each of the brothers to a three-year term with the final 18 months suspended for the rape charges and a concurrent 12-month prison term for the sexual assault of their brother.
He acknowledged that they are both registered as sex offenders now and said that given that both men are considered to be at a low risk of re-offending, a post release supervision order is not needed.
He said he had taken into account the fact that both accused were children at the time of the offending.
Mr Justice Burns offered his sympathies to the victim and said he hoped with further intervention and the support of his loving family, the “hurt and damage” caused may be lessened.
He described the victim impact statement as extremely moving and said the man had shown considerable courage in disclosing the abuse.
Mr Justice Burns acknowledged that one of the accused brothers has a child with significant needs but noted that the man is not her only caregiver and that there are agencies that can assist the family. He accepted that innocent people are reliant on him, but he said this situation “cannot justify the imposition of a non-custodial sentence”.
A local garda told Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting that the victim made a statement of complaint to gardaí in early 2018. He told gardaí that his then 14-year-old brother began abusing him on a weekly basis when he was seven years old and sharing a bed in the family home.
He said the abuse started when his brother asked him to scratch his back before instructing him to scratch lower until he was eventually scratching his brother's backside.
The victim told gardaí that the abuse continued on a weekly basis in the same manner but escalated dramatically until he was raped by his brother. The abuse continued in this way and always occurred on a week night.
He outlined one incident during which his brother called him into his bedroom and told the boy to perform oral sex on him.
The victim was also abused by another brother, who was five years older than him when he again began by molesting him. The first incident involved his brother masturbating him and performing oral sex on him.
This brother also then began to molest and rape the victim on a regular weekly basis.
The victim began to realise what was happening and began to get anxious and angry. He threw his elbow back at his brother when he tried to abuse him again and told him to push over in the bed. The abuse came to an end shortly after that.
The older brother was arrested after the complaint was made to gardaí and made admissions, accepting his younger brother’s allegations as they were put to him during interview.
The younger brother was arrested that same day and accepted the allegations as they were put to him. He also had no previous convictions and is a single man with no children.
The victim outlined in his victim impact statement, how he recalls being repulsed and disgusted by the abuse. “It was a monstrous and horrible act to do to any young child,” he said.
“Who do you think you were and what gave you the right to use me like that?” the man asked. He described it as consistent abuse that happened on weekday evenings that his mother went to mass.
He said when he learned what sex was and what it “meant to be gay”, he began to worry about contracting AIDs and felt it was “a death sentence".
“I thought it was something that you get from being gay. That memory will stay with me for as long as I live, wondering if I was going to die soon,” the man said.
“Every time I would swear it would be the last time, but I never got up the courage,” the man said before he outlined the occasion when he told the younger brother to leave him alone.
“I was ready to fight. I roared at him to move off. That was it, it was over,” he said outlining how that brother never abused him again.
The man spoke of how he worried that his younger brother would be abused in the same way, and he felt his only option was to “watch over him like a hawk” as tried to make sure that he was never alone with them.
He said in his third year in college, he confided in friends and began to seek help from a counsellor and the college chaplain. He said those meetings “changed my life and helped me to deal with a lot of things”.
He referred to his older brother getting married and having children and he became afraid that one of the children would suffer as he had done.
He initially reported the abuse to Tusla and then the rest of his family but still felt that the thoughts of making a statement “seemed like an insurmountable challenge”.
The victim said he later lost contact with his family and his mother stopped speaking to him.
“I was alone in the world. the relationship I was in fell apart,” but he said he eventually built the strength to report to the gardaí.
He said to the younger of his two brothers, that he (the accused) was “a pillar of the community”, “yet you are not then or were ever sorry – you were only sorry when you were caught”.
He concluded his statement by thanking the gardaí, his friends and counsellors for their support and partner “who has stuck with me through thick and thin”.
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.