Abuse ‘a shadow that took innocence’

The mother of a child who was raped by her uncle over a seven-year period has described how the abuse has caused a crack in her family “that no time will ever heal”.

In a victim impact statement read in the Central Criminal Court, she said she would never get over the fact her brother repeatedly raped her daughter from when she was aged seven to 14.

“To my brother,” the woman’s statement read, “my world shattered the day I learned the secret my baby girl had been carrying for so many years. I couldn’t believe my brother could hurt his own sister’s daughter, his niece...

“I had stranger danger talks with my daughter. I never thought that I would have to warn her about someone I thought I could trust.”

The 25-year-old man from the Midlands pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault and seven counts of raping his niece between January 2007 and August 2014.

The court heard the girl looked up to her uncle and the pair grew up together like “brother and sister”.

A local detective told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that the abuse began with sexual misconduct in the form of kissing and inappropriate touching when the girl was seven years old and her uncle was 15.

It progressed to rape and anal rape, with incidents taking place in a relative’s house, in a treehouse in their grandparents’ garden, and in the girl’s house when her uncle was babysitting her.

At one point, the abuse stopped for a couple of years when the man had a girlfriend, but it resumed when that relationship ended.

The abuse ended in August 2014 when the girl disclosed what had been happening to her. When questioned by gardaí, her uncle made full and immediate admissions, the detective said.

In her victim impact statement the victim, now 17, said: “I grew up with a shadow behind me. It’s a shadow that grew bigger and bigger as I grew older. I had to carry it with me. The shadow took away my innocence and it took away my confidence in myself.”

She said her rapist was like a brother to her.

“I trusted him. I thought he was so cool,” she said.

The girl said she felt guilty at the effect the abuse had had on her extended family.

“We were a really close family and now we are broken.”

She said her relationship with her grandmother has particularly suffered. The court heard the man’s parents support their son.

The man told gardaí he always felt “terrible” after each incident of abuse, the court heard.

Ms McGowan said: “He said he always felt awful for days afterwards and contemplated suicide over this.”

Mary Rose Gearty SC, defending, told the court the man had received extensive therapy and counselling since the abuse came to light.

“He knows he is going to jail,” Ms Gearty said. “His motivation has been to make sure this doesn’t happen again, for his own sake and for the sake of his extended family.”

She noted the man was a child when he began the abuse. She said he was extremely remorseful. He has no previous convictions.

Judge Patrick McCarthy adjourned for sentencing on December 16. Ms Gearty said her client wished to be taken into custody immediately to start whatever sentence was handed down. His victim and her mother cried and embraced as he was taken into custody, as did the victim’s grandparents.


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