A Donegal man has been jailed for four and half years for having sex with his sister when she was between 12 and 14 years old and sexually assaulting her in their family home over 16 years ago.
The accused, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victim, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to two charges of incest and 20 charges of sexual assault on her when she was under the age of 15 years old on dates between June 7, 1991 and June 6, 1996.
Mr Justice Paul Carney declared the accused a sex offender before he added that “society has hardened its attitude to incest over time”, which resulted in the maximum penalty available for the offence increasing from seven to 20 years to life.
He said taking into account the “inherent gravity of the case”, the breach of trust involved, the age of the victim and its effect on her, in addition to the length of time the crime was carried out for; the offence “merited nine years in prison”.
Mr Justice Carney said however that he must also take into account the man’s plea, early admissions, remorse, lack of previous convictions, record of hard work and employment and the fact that reports before the court indicated that he was at a “low risk of re-offending”.
He imposed a four year term for each of the sex assault counts and four and half years for the incest charges to be served concurrently.
Mr Justice Carney said considering the familial connection and the fact that the man had been assessed at a low risk of re-offending, he “did not deem it necessary” to consider post release supervision.
Mr John Aylmer SC, prosecuting, said that the charges pleaded to were representative and the victim was sexually abused by her brother on a weekly basis from the time she was 10 to 14 years old.
He said there were four incidents of incest where the accused had sex with his sister from the time she was 12 to 14 years old.
Garda Elaine Kelly agreed with Mr Aylmer that the now 28-year-old woman said in a victim impact statement before the court, that her brother was “a bastard” but she could now look forward to the rest of her life because he had been brought to justice.
She described how the incidents had a terrible effect on her and she was frightened to be in her bed at night. She was afraid of her brother and to tell her parents about the abuse.
The woman said she was afraid to chat to boys at school, she did not do well in her State exams and later drank alcohol to block out the abuse.
She said she felt she had lost her childhood and suffered nightmares and flashbacks.
Gda Kelly told Mr Aylmer that the woman first reported the abuse to gardaí in April 2007. She had been “prompted” to make the complainants because her brother then had a daughter himself and she was worried that the child could be subjected to similar incidents.
The woman told gardaí she had reported the abuse to her parents when she was a young teenager and they then called her brother to talk to him in her absence .
She did not know what had been said to the accused but she told gardaí that the abuse continued for some time afterwards.
Gda Kelly said the accused was arrested on August 20, 2007. He was co-operative during interview and admitted to sexually assaulting the girl.
Gda Kelly agreed with Mr Patrick Gageby SC, defending, that his client and his sister came from a hardworking family that had a good reputation in the local town.
She accepted that the man had worked hard since leaving school, had never come to garda attention and could be described as “a shy and retiring person”.
Gda Kelly further accepted that after the allegations came out the Health Service Executive and social workers investigated his client’s relationship with his young daughter but there had never been a suggestion that he had acted inappropriately towards her.
Mr Gageby said his client expressed remorse and shame for what had happened and was aware of the deep psychological effects his crime had on his sister.
Both a psychiatrist and a probation report indicated that he was at a low risk of re-offending.