A 36-year-old Cork man who sexually abused his younger sister during their childhood and teens has been given a five-year sentence.
The man, who cannot be named at this stage for legal reasons, was convicted by a jury following a trial last July at the Central Criminal Court, sitting in Cork, of 23 counts of sexual assault against his sister at homes the family resided in between 1991 and 1997. He has been in custody since his conviction.
The abuse began when the accused man, who has learning difficulties, was 14 years old and his sister was 10 years old. It continued until he was 20 years old and his victim was 16 years old.
Mr Justice Paul Carney declared the man a sex offender and said he had “forfeited the most fruitful source of mercy and mitigation” because he had not pleaded guilty to the offences.
He took into account the “grave nature” of the offence, the impact on the victim, the multiplicity of offences and the age of the victim before he sentenced the man to five years in prison.
Mr Justice Carney suspended the final year of that sentence having taken into account the man’s lack of previous convictions, good employment history and youth at the time, on condition that he stay away from “the victim in perpetuity, save with her consent”. He also ordered that he undergo 18 months post release supervision.
Detective Garda Colman Murphy told Tom Creed SC, prosecuting, that the victim used to play with toys in her brother’s bedroom and when she was 10 years old he began to ask her to take her clothes off.
She said he would rub her vagina, initially without penetration, and she would try to stop him but he just kept going. The abuse progressed and became more frequent, escalating to digital penetration of her vagina when she was 12 years old.
His sister recalled the physical pain of the abuse and how he would come into her room at night to put his hands inside her pyjamas. Later her brother would also kiss her and give her "love bites."
He also began exposing his penis and putting her hand on it to force her to masturbate him.
Det Gda Murphy agreed with Mr Creed that texts disclosed to the defence revealed a "complex" relationship between the accused and his sister. The accused man has a full history of employment unbroken since he was a teenager.
The now 33-year-old victim said in her victim impact report that her childhood memories were about removing her clothes and being touched in inappropriate areas. She said she would lie in bed at night praying he would not come into her room.
She said the abuse had occurred in her home where she should have been safest. She said her mother had explained to her about touching but when she told her what was happening nothing permanently changed.
"My mother was supposed to protect me, where does that leave me?" she asked. She said she lost track of what real life was supposed to be like and any time she went to her mother she was "pushed back."
She said she washes twice a day because she never feels clean and wears makeup because she feels she looks like her brother without it. She suffers nightmares and flash backs.
She said she wants to close this chapter in her life and stand up to everyone who tried to hold her back.
Michael Bowman SC, defending, said the accused man wished to apologise to his sister and had written a letter.
The man apologised to his sister for his "foolish deeds" and wrote that he had taken "the coward's choice" by fighting the case. He said he hopes his sister will now have a chance to start the healing process.
Mr Bowman said it was a difficult situation for all concerned and had taken a tremendous toll on the wider family members.
He submitted there may have been an element of "sexual curiosity" but it progressed and became more sinister as the accused got older.
Mr Bowman said the accused appeared to be "intellectually challenged" to an extent which was not clear at this stage and submitted he may not have been functioning as a 20-year-old at the time of the abuse.