Andrew Healy’s abuse began when the girl was aged around four or five and Healy was aged 15
Andrew Healy (45), of Garrane Darra, Wilton, Co Cork, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to 16 counts of sexually assaulting the child on various dates between 1992 and 2009. The court heard the complainant in the case wished to waive her anonymity.
The abuse began when the girl was aged around four or five and Healy was aged 15. It took place mostly in their family home in Ballingcollig, Co Cork.
Healy also pleaded guilty to attempted rape of the child at their home in Cork.
Some of the sexual assaults were carried out at a second location in Co. Cork, and one offence took place in late 2009 at Healy's flat at Brentwood Court, White Oaks, Wilton, Cork.
Detective Garda Craig Peterson told Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, that the offending first came to light in early 2017 when the victim went to gardai.
She told investigators that her older brother had sexually molested her on an almost daily basis and on any occasion he could get her on her own. When Healy later moved out of the family home, he became more opportunistic, the court heard.
The woman told gardai that during the first incident of sexual assault she was scared and told her brother that she wanted her father.
When the girl was aged seven, she fought back by kicking Healy in the face and he told her: “The more you fight, the longer it will take.”
Healy told her: “Stop fighting and let me do it and I will leave you alone” and when she continued to struggle, he pinned her legs down and molested her. She was crying and asking him to stop, but he continued and only stopped when he heard someone arriving at the house in a car.
The final offence in 2009 took place when the victim was staying at Healy's flat in Wilton and awoke to find him molesting her.
After his arrest, Healy told gardai: “I thought it was normal, it's far from right”. He said he was himself sexually assaulted but he later declined to make a formal statement of complaint, Dt Gda Peterson said.
The detective agreed with defending counsel, Jane Hyland SC, that when the family first heard about the allegations of abuse, Healy tried to hurt himself and was admitted to a psychiatric ward.
In her victim impact statement, the woman said that she knew at the time that what her brother was doing was wrong. She said she used to hide under her bed but he would find her and drag her out.
“He threatened me, he said he would hurt me more and my friends too. He said nobody would believe me.
“I was just a little girl. I was afraid he would rip me apart. I felt crushed,” she stated.
The woman said her life fell apart as a result of the abuse and she ended up on anti-depressants and suicide watch. She paid tribute to her “very understanding” husband. She has fears about her children being abused, the court heard.
Sentencing the man today, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said it was “significant offending over a notably long period”. “When a young child is offended against in this way, their life is irredeemably changed,” he said.
He noted that coming forward about the abuse had been cathartic for the woman, who now knows that “the truth is out there”.
He accepted the man is genuinely remorseful and that the offending was limited to his sister and there was no further offending. He took into account a number of mitigating factors including the early guilty plea, which he noted prevented the woman having to give evidence at trial.
He handed down a sentence of seven and a half years and suspended the final year on a number of conditions, including that Healy remain under the supervision of the Probation Service for one year post-release, that he not be in the presence of a child under 18 unsupervised and that he not contact the woman ever again without her permission.
Defence counsel previously told the court that Healy had instructed her to emphasis his remorse and shame. She said his pleas of guilty were an attempt to spare her “any further trauma”.
“He realises that he destroyed the victim's life and he accepts his behaviour has caused great pain to her,” she said.
Healy has deliberately distanced himself from his family, counsel said.
The woman said that when she first told her family about the abuse, some of them called her a liar. She thanked one brother for his continued support.
She told her abuser: “You ruined my life” and said he caused her to lose trust in men. She said she was afraid to have friends as a teenager in case her brother began abusing them.
She told Healy that he no longer had control over her life and that she will never forgive him.