A Galway man will be sentenced next month for the rape of his eight-year-old sister in their family home when he was 17 years old.
The now 54-year-old father of eight, denied the charge but was convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury last month of raping the now 46-year-old woman between 1975 and 1976.
A local sergeant told Patrick McGrath SC, prosecuting, that the victim’s older sister found her upset and bleeding in their bed immediately after the rape. She told her that their brother had “hurt me down there”.
The sister reported the incident to their mother that night but after what counsel termed “a heated argument”, this sister washed the victim, put her in fresh clothes and left the family home with the girl to stay in a friend’s home.
Mr McGrath said the rape was not reported until the victim went to the gardaí in October 2010.
She told officers that she recalled her brother climbing into her bed and raping her.
She said it was very sore and that she bit the attacker’s finger because of the pain. He then left the room.
The man was arrested but denied his sister’s allegation.
The sergeant told Mr McGrath that the man, who has worked for some time in the army before becoming a truck driver, has eight children from two relationships. His youngest child is still a toddler.
He has previous convictions for minor road traffic offences which all relate to the one incident.
The woman stated in her victim impact report, read into the record by Mr McGrath, that she has suffered from depression for a number of years for which she has been treated both as an in-patient and out-patient.
She said her children didn’t have the mother they deserved because she spent so much time in bed when they were older, “wanting to die”.
She was also not able to retain the relationship with their father because she was not able to love him due to her inability to trust people as a result of the rape.
The woman told the man that she had loved him as a brother and had trusted him but he had left her “a scared and broken person”.
“Maybe one day, with the help of God, I will be able to forgive you,” the woman said before she added she hoped that one day he will acknowledge what he has done to her and for the hurt he has caused her and her family.
Martin Giblin SC, defending, accepted that his client has been convicted of a serious offence but said he still maintains his innocence.
He asked Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan to accept that his client hadn’t delayed the case coming to the courts by intimidation and handed in a number of testimonials which described the man as being a good father and well thought of in the community.
Mr Justice Sheehan asked Mr McGrath if he should take into account the fact that the man was “a child in law” at the time of the offence and the fact that the reaction of his mother to the allegation suggested there was “a very serious lack of adult supervision” in the family at the time.
Counsel replied that the man was older than the age of criminal responsibility at the time and was working in the adult world at the time.
Mr McGrath acknowledged that had the case been reported to the gardaí when the mother was made aware of what had happened, he would have been convicted under an older legislation which had a less severe penalty available for sentencing.
He suggested to Mr Justice Sheehan that as the man is now convicted under a different legislation he should sentence him as if he had committed the offence as a 17-year-old last year.
Mr Justice Sheehan enquired if he was required to take into account the impact of a prison sentence on the man’s young children before he remanded the man on continuing bail to sentence next month.
He warned Mr Giblin that his client was not to read anything into the fact that he is still on bail and said “his children and family need to be prepared”.