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Brave survivor Daughter who was sexually assaulted by dad says abuse is a 'life sentence'

In her victim impact statement she outlined how the sexual abuse perpetrated by her father continued to affect every aspect of her life: “ It is a cancer I am fighting every day.”

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Jennifer Lydon McElwaine

Jennifer Lydon McElwaine

Jennifer Lydon McElwaine

A father who sexually abused his young daughter over 25 years ago has been jailed for 18 months.

The sentencing judge commended Ms Jennifer Lydon McElwaine for her “strength and courage” in coming forward to make a complaint against her father due to her concerns for other children.

Raymond McElwaine (68) of Silverwood Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin pleaded guilty to eight sample counts of indecent assault and sexual assault of his daughter at the former family home in Balrothery Estate on dates between June 1988 and December 1994.

Ms Lydon McElwaine, who was aged between six and 11 years old when she was abused, waived her right to anonymity so her father could be named.

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Jennifer Lydon McElwaine

Jennifer Lydon McElwaine

Jennifer Lydon McElwaine

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Abuser Raymond McElwaine

Abuser Raymond McElwaine

Abuser Raymond McElwaine

In her victim impact statement she outlined how the sexual abuse perpetrated by her father continued to affect every aspect of her life: “ It is a cancer I am fighting every day.”

She outlined how after she had first spoken up as a six-year-old about what was happening, her mother had been very upset and her father had cried and pleaded that it was a mistake and a misunderstanding. She described the fear and shame and how lonely and scared she had felt.

She said the detrimental effect of not being heard and validated as a small child was enormous.

She described how her father controlled everything in the house and she now understood how her late mother had been controlled and manipulated by her father as she had been.

Ms Lydon McElwaine told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that when she later came forward as an adult to disclose the abuse to her family due to her concerns about children, her father had implied she was making it up.

“My father cried and manipulated his way out of it,” she said and outlined her devastation at how relationships within the family had suffered as a result.

She said her father had shown no remorse and taken no ownership for his actions.

“I never wanted this, all I wanted was my father to acknowledge what he had done,” she said.

Ms Lydon McElwaine said her father had been meant to protect her but instead used her for his own sexual gratification. “The only person my father ever protected was himself.”

“The crime is not mine but I have been left with a cross to bear for the rest of my life,” she told Judge Karen O'Connor, “child sexual abuse is a life sentence.”

Ms Lydon McElwaine extended her thanks to prosecuting garda Sergeant Gearoid O'Brien.

Judge O'Connor told her the strength and courage of her six-year-old self in speaking out had been a sign of great inner strength and courage that she had clearly retained throughout her life.

She said that despite going through the bereavement of her mother she still had the strength to speak out in an effort to protect other children which showed great courage and concern for others.

Judge O'Connor told her she deserved “to feel proud that you have the strength to do what you have done.” She said she hoped the relationships within the family could be repaired.

In sentencing Judge O'Connor said the aggravating factors included the breach of trust expected between a father and daughter and the breach of a dominant position. She noted Ms Lydon McElwaine had been very young and the formative years were very important in the life of a child.

She took into account the accused man was of previous good character, was a good worker and provider for his family and had a number of health issues.

She said the nature of the offending, in which she was forced to straddle him for his arousal, was at the lower end of the scale for this court and did not include removal of clothing, touching of genitals or penetration. She noted he was at low risk of any type of re-offending.

She imposed consecutive sentences totalling two and half years and suspended the final year.

At the original sentence hearing last July the court heard McElwaine made admissions to the abuse during garda interview and said he was sorry for calling his daughter a liar.

Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, said his client apologised for his actions. He said this was a “very dark day” for McElwaine who had to sit and listen to the deep and long-lasting effects of the abuse on his daughter.

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