Dublin man pleads guilty to indecently assaulting young nephew

A Lucan taxi call-centre worker who sexually abused his young nephew over 28 years ago will be sentenced later at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

John O’Neill (aged 43) of Sarsfield Park pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting Mr Keith Battersby, then aged between six and eight years old, at his home and at a local cinema on dates between May 1982 and December 1984. He has no previous convictions.

Mr Battersby (now 34) reading from his victim impact statement in court, described the “catastrophic consequences” of his uncle’s actions, on him as “a young, innocent boy”, on his family and on his wife.

He described how he had “so wanted” to be like his uncle, whom he had “put on a pedestal” growing up.

“Why does someone you love....who showered you with gifts....why does that same person abuse you when you were a young boy,” he asked.

Mr Battersby described how O’Neill had introduced him to drinking and socialising by getting him his first job at a pub and how the alcohol, though “it made matters worse”, later allowed him “to bring raw emotions and feelings to the surface”.

He said O’Neill would “be the hero” in situations where alcohol became a problem with other family members to manipulate him to say nothing about the abuse.

Mr Battersby said he slowly distanced himself from his uncle’s “grasp” but continued to have alcohol and drugs problems, which “only dampened the hurt and pain for a short period of time”.

He said he has become distant and shows little emotion or affection, which has affected his wife’s confidence since requests for hugs and kisses “reminded me of the affection I had to give to my abuser”.

He said he decided to end his life in 2000 by jumping from Lucan’s Liffey Bridge but subsequently woke up in hospital and began to engage in counselling, though he still suffered depression and alcoholism.

Mr Battersby said he came to realise through counselling that the abuse was not his fault.

Detective Garda Debbie Newton told Ms Tara Burns BL, prosecuting, that O’Neill made his young nephew perform oral sex on him at the Sarsfield Park address a number of times in 1982 and then again at the Grove Cinema several times in 1984.

Det Gda Newton said the abuse at Sarsfield Park stopped in 1982 but started again in 1984 at the cinema where O’Neill had worked.

The detective garda said the abuse stopped fully in 1984 and that Mr Battersby remained close with his uncle until he got older and turned to alcohol and drugs.

She told Ms Burns that O’Neill attended a voluntary interview after his victim had made a formal garda complaint and eventually pleaded guilty to all the offences.

She agreed with Ms Caroline Biggs SC, defending, that her client had been himself sexually abused, that he had not offended since the incidents nor was he on the garda radar suspected of similar offences.

She accepted O’Neill was genuinely remorseful for his actions and had sought counselling over the last 10 years.

Mr Battersby in his victim impact statement recalled his father suffering ill health after he disclosed the abuse to his parents and before his suicide attempt.

He broke down in the witness box as he read a poem about his abuse in which he described how much he loved his family.

He thanked his parents, his siblings, his wife, the DPP, Det Gda Newton for all their support and made special mention to One in Four.

Ms Biggs submitted to Judge Katherine Delahunt that her client’s life also had been destroyed by the abuse he’d suffered and that which he’d inflicted on his nephew.

She submitted that her client had all the characteristics of an abuse victim from psychological assessments and was at low risk of reoffending.

She submitted that these reports suggested her client’s offending behaviour had held him back from reaching his potential academically and in relationships.

Ms Biggs submitted that O’Neill always had desires to “make amends” with his nephew.

Judge Delahunt adjourned sentencing till next month to consider the verdict.

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