A woman who was repeatedly sexually assaulted by her uncle as a young child has told a court that the scars and memories of the abuse she suffered will never end.
The 29-year-old woman and her male cousin (33), also abused by the same man, were both present in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court as their uncle was sentenced to three years in prison today.
The former soldier, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victims, pleaded guilty to three sample counts of sexually assaulting his nephew in Dublin on dates between 1992 and 1994, starting when the boy was just five years old.
The 64-year-old further admitted to three sample counts of sexually assaulting his niece at the same address on dates between 1996 and 1998, when the girl was aged between seven and nine.
The court heard that the abuse took place about 20 times a year, when both victims used to stay overnight at their grandmother's home where the accused also lived.
The accused is currently serving a seven-year sentence with 12 months suspended for the repeated rape of a different niece and a great-nephew, imposed by the Central Criminal Court in October of this year.
The woman, who took to the stand to deliver her victim impact statement, said she suppressed memories for many years and battled with flashbacks and depression.
She said would never forgive herself because of the abuse her uncle perpetrated on other members of her extended family.
“I knew a monster and allowed him to be around the people I love the most,” she said.
The woman said her uncle used to make her feel special as a child by telling her how beautiful she was and how much fun he had with her. “I know now that this was grooming,” she said.
She described recurrent childhood nightmares of a monster coming into her room and standing over her bed, but that only recently had she realised that “the monster was real”.
“The scars and memories that are in my head are something that will always be with me. What I do give this man today, my abuser, the monster that has destroyed my good memories, are my feelings of guilt and unworthiness and I hope he is able to live with them, as I couldn't, and they were never mine to hold onto for so long,” she read.
Passing sentence, Judge Melanie Greally condemned the “relentless regularity” of the abuse and the enormous breach of trust it represented, taking place in a grandmother's home where, she said, “children should expect to be safe and cherished”.
She noted the long period of time over which the offences were committed, the young age of the victims, the evidence of grooming, and severely damaging effect of the abuse
Judge Greally said the fact that the male victim chose not to submit a victim impact report did not mean there was no severe or significant impact on the young man.
The judge gave the accused credit for his early guilty plea, his high level of cooperation, the isolation and homelessness he now suffers and the fact that he is engaging with the One in Four service.
She sentenced the man to three years in prison for the abuse of his niece and two and a half years for the abuse of his nephew, both to run concurrently from today.
Judge Greally expressed the hope that the sentence could “in some way, assist the healing process”.
Detective Garda Mark Scott told Dean Kelly BL, prosecuting, that the two victims made statements to gardaí in 2016.
The male victim said his uncle used to give him crossbars on his bicycle, take him for ice creams and out to see football games.
He said he used to visit his grandmother roughly every two weeks and more or less every time would end up in his uncle's bedroom where the abuse took place. He said the abuse consisted of his uncle asking him to lie on his bed while he masturbated, or groping.
He said he thought the abuse started when he was aged about five, and that as he got older after the abuse ended, he began to get flashbacks, spoke to his parents, got counselling and eventually went to gardaí.
The young woman said she remembers her uncle asking her to sit still in a chair while he stood behind the chair, doing what she now knows was masturbating. She said she remembers that if she spoke or asked questions it would last longer, so she learnt to stay quiet.
The woman said she remembered another occasion of lying on a couch in her grandmother's nightdress when her uncle put his hand up her clothes.
Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, said his client was honourably discharged from the army after 13 years of service.
He said that the accused became homeless when the family sold his home after the allegations surfaced and he worked in a charity shop for a time.
Mr O'Higgins said that his client had otherwise led a “fairly blameless life” and was a reasonably productive member of society.