21-year-old Dublin man who molested his own niece given suspended sentence

Central Criminal Court
Central Criminal Court

A victim of child rape has avoided jail for the molestation of his five year old niece who would sleep in his bed because of her fear of ghosts.

The 21-year-old Dublin man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, fondled the five year old girl on occasions when she would go into his bed at night because she was afraid of the dark and of ghosts.

The man was himself raped and sexually assaulted as a child along with his teenage brother.

He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of sexually assaulting the child at a location in Dublin on dates between April and November 2011.

Bernard Condon SC, defending, said his client was 13 when he was raped by an older man and forced to engage in sexual acts with his brother while the siblings were in care.

Mr Justice Paul Carney jailed this older man to life in what Mr Condon described as a case of “exceptional depravity”. The sentence was later reduced by the Court of Criminal Appeal.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring noted that the older abuser had told the Central Criminal Court that he was in turn sexually abused as a child.

She noted it was the experience of the court that female victims of sexual abuse seldom turn into abusers while male victims more often go on to become offenders.

Judge Ring criticised the prosecution for what she said was a distressing delay in bringing charges against the abuser, given that the man had confessed to the abuse in December 2011. 

She said the prosecuting authorities should have more regard for the age of the victim in these types of cases.

Judge Ring said she was taking in consideration the man’s young age and the significant strides he has made in rehabilitation.

But she said she was concerned that he abused his niece despite having already received counselling for the abuse he had suffered himself.

She suspended a three year prison sentence on condition that he continues to attend for therapy and to reside at a home for children from dysfunctional backgrounds.

She said that it was a serious offence but that his early admissions, guilty plea and his continued co-operation with counselling services were mitigating factors.

Counsel said his client was sorry and had written a letter to the victim which could be read to her by her parents in the future.

The court heard that the parents of the victim believe there have been no adverse consequences and they would prefer to leave her as she is rather than going over the ordeal again with a child psychologist or to make a victim impact report.

The abuse came to light when the child’s mother was preparing her for bed and the girl told her mother not to touch her bum and said that the accused had touched her there.

The accused denied it at first and said that she might have accidentally rubbed off him while in his bed. He agreed to take a lie detector test and the family got hold of one.

He failed this test and later confessed to his sisters that he had molested his niece.

He told one sister he didn’t know why he did it, saying:  "I’m sick. There’s no helping me”.

The victim told child specialist interviewers that she would sometimes leave her own bedroom and go into her uncle’s room because she became afraid of ghosts.

The abuser told gardaí: "I’m sorry for doing it, and for lying to my family, I knew it was wrong"

The young man had come to live with his brother at the age of 16 after living in foster care for a number of years. The court heard he was given his own bedroom and had gotten on well with the other children in his brother’s family.

He had touched the child intimately and forced her to touch his penis and would use a baby wipe to clean her hand after the sexual assaults