Additional pain | 

Cork man who repeatedly raped his sister when she was a child appeals conviction

In the aftermath of John Paul Hegarty's conviction his sister waived her right to anonymity to signal to other victims of sexual abuse that they need not “suffer in silence”

John Paul Hegarty

Ali Bracken

A man who repeatedly raped his sister when she was between the ages of nine and 12 is appealing his criminal conviction.

In January, John Paul Hegarty, (41), of Castleview, Little Island, Co Cork, was jailed for repeatedly raping his youngest sister during the formative years of her life at their family home in Glanmire in Co Cork. He was imprisoned for seven years.

The Sunday World has established that Hegarty is now appealing his conviction. This attempt will now “cause additional pain”, according to a source familiar with the case.

In the aftermath of his conviction his sister Nora Hegarty, (35), waived her own right to anonymity to signal to other victims of sexual abuse that they need not “suffer in silence” and in order that her brother could be identified.

Ms Hegarty said it was important for her to do so to send a message to other victims of sexual abuse that they should feel no shame over abuse they have suffered.

“This is one of the reasons why I waived my anonymity, I wanted to show others who have lived through the experiences that I have lived that they can get justice. They have nothing to be ashamed of, they should hold their heads up, they don’t need to suffer in silence. There are people who will support them all the way through.

"For me my investigating garda, everyone at the Protective Service Unit in Cork city, were there for me throughout this process,” she explained.

Mr Hegarty was convicted by a jury last October at a Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork of 19 counts of rape as well as other offences. He was aged between 15 and 18 when he perpetrated the abuse.

Nora Hegarty said that whatever the number of rape charges on the indictment, she was raped by John Paul on an almost daily basis for three years.

Following his imprisonment, she said she hoped she could finally look towards a future that is not consumed by memories of the abuse she suffered.

She added she was hopeful that “light can now filter through” and she can move forward and begin to finally live her life.

“I feel that now I can finally look to the future, I never was able to do that before. Where before there was only blackness, I hope now the light will finally filter through. I hope to just live a normal life, find things that make me happy and finally put what happened to me in the past behind me.”

In relation to her brother’s seven-year sentence, the 35-year-old explained it was never about seeing her abuser jailed.

“For me this was never about putting John Paul in prison, this was always about just being able to let go of what happened to me and handing the hurt and pain to the person that caused it. I suffered my whole life with this.

"I thought Judge [Deirdre] Murphy when she was handing down the sentence summed up the case very well. There are no winners in this case. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not my fault that families are hurting, I did nothing wrong. It was all John Paul.”

Nora Hegarty at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork. Photo: Cork Courts Limited

From the moment John Paul was found guilty, she said she felt an immediate sense of relief. That finally the “shame and hurt” she had carried around over the abuse since childhood was immediately handed to the person who should carry it — her brother.

“When I heard the jury return a guilty verdict my immediate emotion was just relief, relief that this journey to get justice was finally over. This journey had been my life, it had consumed me for so long.

"I want to thank the nine men and three women of the jury who delivered that verdict and finally made me feel validated after all these years.”

In her victim impact statement, Ms Hegarty detailed the torment she endured at the hands of her brother. The court heard that the abuse ended only when she started menstruating as John Paul feared she would become pregnant.

Ms Hegarty detailed in her statement to the court how the abuse had derailed her life.

“There are no winners in all of this… I played happy families so much that I ended up as bridesmaid at his wedding. I knew what John Paul was doing. He was trying to make sure his dirty secret didn’t get out again. It breaks my heart that there are families torn apart from all of this, but I couldn’t go on suffocating,” she said.

If you have been affected by issues raised in this article, please contact the Rape Crisis Centre on freephone 1800 77 88 88

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