Man guilty of sexually assaulting partner’s daughter

A stepfather was found guilty today of sexually assaulting his partner’s daughter three times from when she was aged 12 — getting into her bed each time with the words, “Push over, love.”

The 43-year-old was convicted by the unanimous verdict of the eight men and four women of the jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court of sexually assaulting his partner’s daughter three times.

Judge James McCourt remanded the accused in custody for sentencing on May 29 when the injured party will also present a victim impact statement.

The accused pleaded not guilty to charges of sexually assaulting his partner’s daughter at the family home during three distinct periods between June 2010 and June 2012.

Dermot Sheehan prosecuting, said in his opening statement: “This lady is 21 years old. Her parents separated and her mother started going out with the defendant.

“She (the complainant) was living with her mother… She says she was in the bottom bunk bed, that he got into the bed with her. During that time he sexually assaulted her. She describes him stroking the boobs and the area around the vagina.

“The second time, again he came to the bunk bed. She was asleep in the bunk bed. He groped her, again touching her boobs and being rubbed down around her pyjama pants around her hip and waist.

“Finally, she was in Junior Cert where there was another incident in her bed. He came to the room again and stroked her hip (outside her pyjamas). This time she asked him to stop,” Mr Sheehan alleged in opening the case.

The defendant testified: “It did not happen. It never happened.”

Cross-examining the defendant, Mr Sheehan said:

You are saying she is lying. And the reason she is lying is because she had a dispute with her mother in relation to the break-up of the relationship with her partner (the victim’s father)

He said: “I could not tell you why.”

In his closing speech, Mr Sheehan said: “You heard the account of a young child confronted with all the upset and fright of such a situation — her efforts to protect herself, the tensing of the body to protect the integrity of her young body against the assault by (defendant).”

Brendan Kelly, defending, said the allegations by the complainant were that they happened in a bunk bed but that the defendant’s evidence was that bunk beds had been changed for other beds prior to the alleged offences.

“The allegations are not corroborated by anything at all and you are being asked to convict with manifest contradictions in the State case.

“You could not possibly convict. You would have to have multiple and many many doubts… I ask you to acquit.”

Judge James McCourt told the jury: “Essentially, what you have got is one person’s word against another, it is up to you to take it from there.”

The jury took less than two hours to deliver a unanimous guilty verdict.

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