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Tipperary man sexually abused his sister and his niece

Tipperary man sexually abused his sister and his niece

A Tipperary man who sexually abused his younger sister in the 1970s and sexually abused his niece three decades later has been jailed for 12 years.

His abuse of his sister, who is ten years younger than him, began in the 1970s when she was five years old and did not come to light until his niece, who is the daughter of his brother, reported their relationship to her family in 2008.

The 53 year old man pleaded guilty to one count of rape and six counts of sexual assault of his sister at their family home in Tipperary between 1978 and 1982.

He also pleaded guilty to five counts of defilement of a child, one count of oral rape and three counts of sexual assault of his niece at different locations around the county between 2005 and 2007.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy imposed consecutive sentences of seven years each for the offences against the two victims, saying there was no meaningful difference in the seriousness of the crimes against them. He suspended the final two years of the term.

In a victim impact statement the man's sister said he had carried on his life as if nothing had happened while she had to deal with psychological problems, flashbacks and trust issues.

Addressing her brother in her statement, she said she was very close to her own children “to protect them from people like you”.

Reading her own statement to the Central Criminal Court, his niece said he had ruined her perception of love and relationships.

She had come close to ending her own life and had ongoing problems with anxiety and trust but would take solace in knowing that “for the length of time you are in prison, every other child you would have been near will be safe”.

Sergeant Barry Boland told Luán ó Braonáin SC, prosecuting, that the man was one of fourteen children of a wide range of ages.

The man and his sister shared a bedroom.

One night he lifted her from her bed and brought her to his own bed where he touched her under her nightdress and in her vagina.

He also abused her under blankets when their other siblings were present in the room. She told gardaí this behaviour became an almost nightly occurrence and was terrifying for her.

He first had sexual intercourse with her when she was seven, in the year of her first holy communion. Another incident of rape when she was 10 years old was interrupted by their mother, who was angry with both her son and her daughter.

He was thrown out of the house but was permitted to return a few weeks later and the abuse briefly resumed. Finally he moved out permanently.

The man's niece began babysitting his children after he returned from a period living in the United Kingdom.

She told gardaí that he flirted with her when she was 10 years old and made her feel important.

The flirting developed into sexual contact when she was 14. She was in his van and they drove to a remote location, where he turned the conversation to sex.

She told gardaí that she did not want to have sex with her uncle, but was afraid that saying no would endanger their special relationship and the time she spent with his family, to whom she was close.

Meetings for sex in his van became routine, she said. She estimated they had sex, including oral sex, at least 30 times over a three year period from 2005 to 2008, and he would regularly send her text messages of a sexual nature.

He also began touching her when she was in his home to babysit, sometimes while his wife was in the other room. He presented her with thong as a gift and said he got the same one for his wife.

Other incidents involved alcohol and viewing pornographic material together.

On one occasion the man's wife saw him with his arm around his niece through a window and became angry, but he convinced her it was innocent. The court heard the man's wife carries a great amount of guilt over this.

The man's niece brought their relationship to an end in 2008 and revealed the extent of the relationship to the man's wife and the rest of her family. She underwent counselling and in 2012 reported the abuse to gardaí.

His abuse of his sister was also first reported at this time.

Michael Delaney SC, defending, said the man had grown up in a dysfunctional family with a “culture of sexual abuse of minors”. His father allegedly sexually abused three of his sisters, and he himself was allegedly sexually abused by an uncle.

He also witnessed his mother stabbing his father when he was seven years old.

Counsel said a psychological report had identified the man as having a low risk of reoffending, and asked Mr Justice McCarthy to suspend a portion of the sentence to encourage rehabilitation.

Mr Justice McCarthy said that the man accepted his wrongdoing but had limited insight into his own motivations and had “borderline cognitve function”, which he said was true of 90% of offenders in such cases.