'Devil inside' | 

Man pleads guilty to sexual abuse of four girls spanning five decades

The man, who said ‘devil inside made me do these things’, abused his niece for the final time on his wedding day

Ennis Circuit Court

Gordon DeeganIndependent.ie

A man sexually abused his niece for the final time on his wedding day 41 years ago, a court has heard.

The man, now aged 68, pleaded guilty before Ennis Circuit Court to the sexual abuse of four girls spanning five decades from 1976 to 2018.

He told gardaí: “It was the devil inside that made me do these things.”

Detective Garda Conor Flaherty, of the Clare Division’s Protective Services Unit, said the man admitted to gardaí that he was attracted to nine and 10-year-old girls.

The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victims, was already in prison after voluntarily giving up his bail. However Judge Francis Comerford said he would have been remanding the man in custody anyway after hearing an outline of the facts.

The man was first charged with 221 counts of sexual and indecent assaults between 1976 and 2018 concerning four complainants.

He pleaded guilty to 53 sample counts concerning the first three victims and pleaded guilty to the single count relating to a sex assault on the fourth girl in 2018.

The man’s first victim, a niece, was born in 1971 and was sexually abused on “numerous occasions” from the age of five to when she was aged 10 on her uncle’s wedding day in 1981. The man started the abuse when he was aged 22.

The man’s final victim was born in 2008. He pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault in the summer 2018 when the girl was aged 10.

Another victim was sexually assaulted by the man from when she was age six to 11-years-old, from 1991 to 1996.

In her victim impact statement, the woman, now aged 37, said the man, married to her aunt, was “a wolf in sheep’s clothing...looking for the right opportunity to pounce”.

She told how she spent time in his home as her mother was in hospital for a period.

“Instead of helping to nurture that six-year-old, he instead used me for his own disgusting sexual perversions,” she said.

“Not only did he sexually abuse me from the ages of six to 10, but he also emotionally tortured me with whispers of ‘nobody will believe you’, ‘if you tell anyone you will never see your family again’, ‘you’ll be left all alone’ and ‘you know I love you’.

“It was an egregious abuse of trust, of normal decency…They say the body keeps the score. I have spent so many years pushing things down, my disgust, my fear, my sadness, my pain. Pushing deeper within myself until I could feel nothing at all.”

Det Gda Flaherty said he man’s decades of abuse were exposed when the mother of the third victim confronted him at a funeral in the summer of 2019.

The man confessed to the mother and after a number of people became aware of this locally, the man’s first two victims came forward to make statements to gardaí.

The man’s wife was a child-minder to the third victim. He sexually assaulted the child when his wife brought her to their home at lunchtime where she would cook a meal for her husband during his break from work.

The sexual assaults took place when the girl was aged six to eight from 2002 to 2004.

Det Gda Flaherty said that after making the admission at the funeral, the man checked himself into a psychiatric unit. Records obtained by gardaí from the man’s time in the unit included disclosures he made to doctors concerning abusing children.

Patrick Whyms BL, counsel for the accused, said his client has been called a “paedophile” on the street in his home place.

He said his client had agreed with Tusla not to have any more contact with any children. He said the man's own children have abandoned him while he is separated from his wife, though they remain living together in the same house.

Judge Comerford deferred sentencing the man pending the completion of a psychiatric report on the accused and remanded him in custody.

In her victim impact statement, one woman said that, over time, her family has felt “ostracised from the wider family as we would not socialise with this man”.

“I cannot understand how people who were supposed to love me and be my family took the word of this man over a small child,” she said.

“My brothers have been confronted by my cousins in social settings where they had accused me of compromising the family name through my lies.

“To this day, no one from our wider family has contacted my parents, my siblings or me to see how we were when the case came forward or indeed to express any regret over what happened.

“I am lucky - my own family never questioned the truth in what I said and have always supported me and encouraged me.

“For over 40 years, what happened to me in my childhood has been an open secret, rarely discussed. My recollection of the abuse suffered by me at the hands of my uncle is as clear to me as if it happened yesterday."

She said it was made known to her parents that “the negative impact of anything that happened being talked about would kill my grandparents. That kept the secret safe for a long time”.

Another victim told in her statement how the man has “shown not an ounce of remorse for the pain he has inflicted on me”.

She added: “In fact, I am the one shunned by family for what he has done. He is a danger to children and always will be. He is only sorry that I had the courage to speak out about the disgusting things he has done.

“We are from a small town and I often see him which is incredibly traumatic. The last time I saw him he was walking a little girl in a stroller.”

She said: “As I close my eyes to think about what to write in this statement, I imagine myself as I once was - a tiny six-year-old girl.

"I wish I could talk to that little girl and hold her tight and tell her she didn’t deserve what happened to her. That a wolf in sheep’s clothing married to her aunt would be looking for the right opportunity to pounce.”

A third woman who was abused as a young girl in the 1990s by the man told the court that “after years of repeated sexual abuse by a paedophile who masqueraded as a family friend, I became shy and withdrawn”.

“I do not think that people like the offender deserve the luxury of freedom when we will forever be trapped in what he has done to us.”

In her victim impact statement, the mother of the man’s final victim, aged 10 in 2018, said that learning of the sex assault by her daughter’s grand uncle “completely broke me”.

She said she "never in a million years thought he was capable of doing such an horrific, disgusting thing to an innocent child”.

“A mother is meant to protect her child or children at all costs from monsters like him and he has made me feel like I failed her.

“He has taken the pure innocence of a child and turned her into a closed book…He has destroyed my daughter’s childhood and life in prison is not enough for him for what he has done.”

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