Jail term for man who sexually abused grand niece aged 10

CourtsBy Sunday World
The man was found guilty of three counts of indecent assault and two counts of sexual assault by a jury last July
The man was found guilty of three counts of indecent assault and two counts of sexual assault by a jury last July

A 77-year-old man who sexually abused his grand-niece two decades ago when she was aged between 10 and 14 has been jailed for five years.

The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, engaged in a “breach of trust in a most distressing way” when he abused the child, Judge Elma Sheahan said in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today.

The man was found guilty of three counts of indecent assault and two counts of sexual assault by a jury last July. The incidents happened between 1987 and 1991 when the victim was aged between 10 and 14. She reported the incidents to gardaí in 2010.

In a victim impact statement previously read out in court, the woman said she spent €6000 on breast reduction surgery as she felt her grand-uncle “owned my boobs” and she felt “uneasy with compliments” from her husband.

The woman, 39, said she suffered from nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia and depression and “a black cloud hangs over me for days at a time” as a result of the abuse.

She also said she suffered panic attacks in her sleep and often woke up with tightness in her chest.

The trial heard the victim’s father was an alcoholic and she was regularly sent to her paternal grandparents’ house in Dublin, where her grand-uncle also lived, to collect sleeping tablets for her father.

Garda Robert Madden previously told the court the victim made a statement to him in 2010 in which she detailed five specific incidents of abuse.

He said she recalled two incidents where her granduncle kissed her on the mouth and on the neck in the parlour of her grandparents’ house and a third incident where he kissed her on the mouth and neck and touched and kissed her breasts.

She also reported two further incidents where he kissed her on the mouth, kissed and touched her breasts and penetrated her vagina with his fingers.

In her statement, the victim also recalled her 21st birthday party where her grand-uncle turned up uninvited and “destroyed my life and danced as if nothing happened”.

The court heard the victim, now a mother herself, had suicidal thoughts in the past and felt forced to tell her older children about the abuse so they would understand she “couldn’t help it and apologised for letting them down”.

She said she was hospitalised for five days as she suffered hearing loss associated with stress after making the statement to gardaí.

The victim's statement made “harrowing reading”, Judge Sheahan said.

Colman FitzGerald SC, defending, previously said the man was assaulted by the victim’s sibling after she made the statement to gardaí and he was forced to leave the house where the abuse took place and where he had lived since he was a young child.

He also said that the man had no previous convictions and a custodial sentence would make up “a significant part of the remainder of his life”.

Judge Sheahan noted that the man now lived “a lonely and isolated life”. But she said he had taken advantage of his grand-niece while committing serious offences and had never expressed any remorse for the abuse.

By Laura Colgan and Isabel Hayes