A 75-year-old man who raped his then-nine-year-old granddaughter in a Wexford town in 1994 has been jailed for seven years by Mr Justice Paul Carney at the Central Criminal Court.
The west Dublin pensioner admitted he raped her in July 1994 and also pleaded guilty to six further charges of sexually assaulting her on dates from 1992 to 1998.
He also admitted four counts of indecently assaulting her older sister on dates from 1983 to 1990.
Prosecuting counsel, Ms Aileen Donnelly SC (with Ms Caroline Cummings BL) said the sample guilty pleas from an indictment with 64 counts were accepted by the State on the basis of all evidence being heard.
The first 25 charges on the indictment related to the victim he raped and the remaining 39 to her older sister. He first pleaded guilty to three of the charges on May 26 last when a jury had been scheduled to be sworn in for his trial. The victims had been told he would plead guilty.
Ms Donnelly said the Director of Public Prosecutions placed the rape charge "at the upper end of the scale for sentence, in a range of 10-12 years before mitigation was taken into consideration" because of the victim's age, his continued sexual assault of her and that, as her grandfather, he was in a position of trust.
When defence counsel Mr Luan Ó Braonáin SC submitted that, while he wasn't there to offer any excuse for his client's behaviour but that when the man was asked what he would want to say to the court if he was unrepresented in the case, he had replied: "I'm sorry."
Mr Justice Carney observed: "You haven't eyes in the back of your head, Mr Ó Braonáin, but that is being treated with contempt at the back of the court."
Mr Justice Carney directed that the man's name be entered on the register of sexual offenders, and said that the case merited a sentence of 12 years as submitted by Ms Donnelly.
He said he must take into account the man's plea of guilty, lack of previous convictions, his age, state of health and the fact that he was considered to be at a low risk of re-offending before he sentenced him to seven years for the rape charge and a concurrent four years on each of the sex and indecent assault charges.
Detective Garda Eva Micheau told Ms Donnelly that the youngest victim was first sexually abused in a garden shed and ther sexual assaults took place in his bedroom.
Detective Garda Micheau, who investigated the case with Garda Sinead Hennessy, said the then-nine-year-old girl was raped by her grandfather in a mobile home at a Wexford resort when he took her into his bed and placed her on his penis. He continued to sexually abuse her after this incident.
Her older sister became "physically ill" when her younger sister told her about the rape, some years later but both women weren't ready at the time to formally complain but did some years later.
Detective Garda Micheau said the older sister was also sexually abused in a similar manner by him and he would tell her it was their "little secret" which she wasn't to tell anyone about or her mother would be taken from her.
The man was arrested but expressly denied everything when interviewed.
Detective Garda Micheau agreed with Mr Ó Braonáin (with Ms Eva Duffy BL) that, apart from his express denials, he co-operated with gardaí in all other ways but that he seemed to be detached from the realities of life when being questioned
Ms Donnelly read out victim-impact reports from both victims in which they revealed that the abuse had severely affected both their family and personal relationships and also divided the family.
The younger victim said she didn't "feel like a victim anymore" and had moved on. "I felt like a new person when I walked out of the Garda station."
Her sister commented that the abuse on her had "a drastic effect" on her life and that she used to suffer from anger and depression but like her sister, she had also now moved on.
Mr Ó Braonain submitted that, though his client's guilty pleas came at a late stage, that had been communicated to the victims a week before the scheduled trial so they were aware they wouldn't have to give evidence.
He asked the court to take into consideration that the pensioner's health was poor and this along with his age would make prison very hard for him. The offences stopped 14 years ago and the man wasn't considered to be at a risk of re-offending
Mr Ó Braonain told Mr Justice Carney that his client had been married for a long time but the offences had brought about a separation from his wife and he now resided alone in a hostel.
"He realises he has to live out the remaining years of his life on his own."