Dublin man jailed for sexually abusing his younger sister

central criminal court.jpg
central criminal court.jpg

A Dublin man who as a teenager sexually abused his younger sister has been jailed for six years.

Brian Butler, now aged 31, began abusing his sister when he was 14 years old and continued until he was 17. His sister was aged between nine and twelve years old at the time.

His sister, who has waived her right to anonymity, told the court that her family had been completely torn apart and destroyed by the abuse. She told the court she felt as if her brother was treated as the victim and she still feels this.

Butler, of Moyclare Close, Baldoyle, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to sexual assault and oral rape of Leanne Butler at their family home on dates between January 2000 and December 2002.

The court heard that during this time Butler committed a “litany” of offences on his sister.

The abuse came to light after his sister told a friend. Her family were informed and social services became involved. Butler attended specialised therapeutic services for child sex offenders and a formal complaint was not made to gardai until 2013. His sister also attended for counselling.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said a letter of apology written some years ago when Butler was in counselling had been handed into court but noted it referred only to a period of six months.

He said that Ms Butler had given harrowing evidence in relation to her childhood which had undoubtedly been blighted by the abuse and caused significant long term problems for her. He noted that she had hopes for the future and that she said she was worth more than what her brother did to her.

Mr Justice McCarthy noted the work Butler had carried out in therapy and that he suffered from depression. He noted that Butler had in part contributed his behaviour to his state of mind.

Mr Justice McCarthy imposed a six year sentence and ordered four years post release supervision to include participation in offence focused work and a victim awareness program.

In her victim impact statement Leanne Butler, now aged 26 years old, said she had been a happy child “without a care in the world” and that Butler had been her favourite person - “my big brother and protector”.

She said that had all changed one day and she had been left “paralysed in fear, confusion and pain.”

She said the weeks after the first incident had been filled with confusion. “I felt bad like I had been bold,” she said. She said that she felt disgusting.

“Little did I know it would be a regular occurrence over the next two years,” she continued.

She said she felt trapped as she had not said anything the first time it happened and her brother was good to her during the day. She said she began to understand what was happening as time went on, mainly from reading her sister's magazines.

She described her home as “nothing short of a war zone” and she felt blamed for what had happened to her. She said she felt as if her brother was treated as the victim and that she had been left alone with him even after the offences came to light.

She said the impact of the sexual abuse on her had been “devastating, profound and far reaching.”

The complainant said she had a good relationship with her mother as a child but that now her family had been destroyed by the abuse and completely torn apart. She said at one stage she felt as if she would be better off dead but decided to live and knew she had to face up to happened.

The woman said although her brother was young when he abused her, the abuse had gone on for two years and she could not accept he did not know what he was doing was wrong.

Defence counsel, Sean Gillane SC, asked the court to take into account that since the offences, Butler had served “a very long unofficial probation period in a sense” and had shown himself to be a law abiding citizen who was capable of a day's work.

He said Butler had co-operated with the garda investigation and it was clear “from the word go” that he accepted he carried out sexual wrongdoing.

Mr Gillane said that Butler had acknowledged his wrongdoing, even as a child, and thrown himself into therapeutic work with the specialised services where he developed insight into what he had done. Mr Gillane urged the court to be as lenient as possible.

A local garda told Caroline Biggs SC, prosecuting, that the girl recalled the abuse first occurring after playing a football computer game with her brother. She said they were playing normally and she fell onto the bed when celebrating.

She said her brother lifted her nightdress before putting his hand on her chest, licking her chest and putting his fingers into her vagina. She said he left the room afterwards and she did not understand what had happened.

The girl said the abuse continued to occur in the bedroom, sitting room and bathroom. It progressed to making her masturbate him and oral sex. When she was 11 or 12 years old he got into the shower with her and made her perform oral sex.

She said she locked her bedroom door on occasion and would not let him in but got into trouble with her mother for locking doors. She was grounded and the key taken from her.

The girl said the abuse stopped in 2002. She began to self-harm the following year and told a friend what had happened to her. Teachers alerted social services and her mother was informed.

The court heard the accused man was confronted by his parents and admitted sexual wrongdoing.

The family did not proceed with a formal complaint to the gardai at this stage. Both the complainant and the accused man attended specialised child counselling services.

Gardaí became involved when a formal complaint was made by the complainant in 2013 and the accused admitted inappropriate touching had occurred but denied oral acts.

The garda agreed with Mr Gillane that Butler was a mild mannered and introspective person and had told gardai that the wrongdoing was 100% his fault.