A 73-year-old Wexford man has been jailed for life for raping his nine-year-old step-granddaughter after she helped him recover from a stroke.
The girl was the fifth victim of the accused. He is already serving a 13-year prison term for abusing his two daughters when they were children in the seventies and eighties and a separate term for the similar abuse of his two sons.
The Central Criminal Court heard the man, who cannot be named to protect his victim's identity, "groomed" his step-granddaughter by showing her pornographic playing cards and giving her money before going on to molest and orally rape her.
The man pleaded guilty to 10 counts of sexual assault and oral rape on the girl in his Wexford home between 2006 and 2008 when she was between nine and 12 years old.
Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said the accused had an “appalling history of sexual abuse, including four of his own children, which extended to the abuse of the next generation.”
The judge noted that one of the “striking features” of the girl's victim impact report was that she was afraid to tell her family about the abuse because she was terrified they wouldn't believe her. The court heard that the girl's mother and grandmother, the accused's wife, initially supported him in court.
“She ended up in foster care,” Mr Justice McCarthy said. “She was very angry. She felt she lost her family and that she would never see them again. She felt she was the person in the wrong.”
He noted the mother-daughter relationship had been restored and that her mother was now supportive.
Mr Justice McCarthy said the victim was “obviously an impressive young lady who has made an effort to cope with her life.”
He accepted the man's claim that he was also sexually abused as a child and said that he is “sorry to say that is something one comes across in this court; the abusers are also abused victims.” He also noted the accused's health issues including arthritis and diabetes.
Mr Justice McCarthy imposed an indeterminate life sentence which will run alongside the accused's current 13-year prison term.
It wasn't until she was in secondary school when the girl realised what the man was doing was wrong. The accused had told her not to tell anyone because no one would believe her.
The abuse came to light when the girl was in her late teens and told her cousin about it.
On his arrest the man told gardaí “I didn't rape her but I did touch her. It doesn't make any difference. I'm doing 12 years. I don't think there's any future out there for me anymore. I don't think I’ll get another 10 years out of life.”
In a victim impact report the now 19-year-old said she had tried to kill herself multiple times including on one recent occasion.
“He preyed on me, because I was child,” she wrote. “The only one who did wrong is him.”
Addressing the accused in court while reading out her statement, she told him that God would judge him.
The court heard that in 2006 the girl was very close to her grandmother and would frequently call to her house. Sometimes her grandmother wasn't there and the accused would invite her in to wait.
She got on well with the accused. After he had a stroke she helped him learn how to walk again.
The first time he abused her she was still in primary school. He took off both their clothes and lay on top of her before molesting and orally rape her.
The abuse continued and on one occasion he was nearly caught when the girl's grandmother arrived home.