Man gets 16 months for molesting niece, aged 9, at traditional St Stephen's Day family gathering

An elderly man has been jailed for 16 months for molesting his nine-year-old niece.

The 64-year-old Dublin man committed the assault on his niece with three of her young cousins in bed beside her, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.

The man was convicted by a jury of one count of indecent assault on his niece on the night of 26 December 1980. He had denied the charge.

In a victim impact statement the victim said the assault “took away her childhood and innocence”.

A local garda told the court that it was a tradition for the extended family to gather on St Stephen’s Day to celebrate.

After the children went to bed the man went upstairs to the bedroom where the victim and three of her young cousins were in bed with her.

The victim awoke to her uncle kneeling on top of her, rubbing her clitoris and vagina. She screamed for him to stop, but he continued.

He then got off her and went out of the bedroom. He returned shortly afterwards with his trousers around his hips, standing in the doorway and masturbating while looking at the young girls, as they screamed in terror.

One of them covered the eyes of the youngest girl, who was four at the time, with the bed cover, so she did not have to see him.

The victim only told her mother about the assault when she was 18 years old. She made a subsequent complaint to gardaí in October 2014.

The accused’s daughter today told the court that her father, a carpenter by trade, was a very hard-working man, and passed his strong work ethic on to his children.

She said her children loved her father, and ran to him whenever they called round for a visit.

Patrick Gageby, BL, for the accused, said his client wished to acknowledge the verdict of the jury. He said that the accused had “been of good behaviour since 1980”.

Judge Pauline Codd noted that in the victim impact statement, the victim said her uncle’s actions caused “irreversible damage” to herself and her family, and that she had suffered from “mental torture”, adding that her uncle “took away her childhood and innocence”.

The victim said the assault had affected her ability to trust men throughout her life, and that her children had not had the freedom that she enjoyed as a child because she did not trust people, the judge also noted.

The judge said the maximum sentence for the charge was two years because of the applicable law at the time of the assault. The current maximum sentence for committing such an offence now is 14 years.

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