Two Cork sisters, who were sexually abused for years from the age of nine by their mother’s partner, were each awarded €500,000 against their abuser at the High Court sitting in Dublin.
It will now be a matter for the victims to recover the award from the defendant, who is serving a jail sentence.
Martin Harvey, solicitor for the young women, welcomed yesterday’s judgment in the case by Mr JusticeÉamon de Valera.
Mr Harvey said afterwards: “We will now proceed to recover from the defendant in relation to any properties he may own.”
The defendant, who is in jail serving a long sentence for the sex crimes, made no appearance in court, which was heard at the High Court sitting in Cork in January.
Mr Justice de Valera addressed the issue of whether the defendant would be able to pay the €1m total award against him. The judge said his function was to assess damages and, in doing so, the issue of the plaintiffs actually recovering the money was not one with which he should be concerned.
“I have to assess the appropriate level of damages without reference to the defendant’s ability to pay,” Mr Justice de Valera said.
Both sisters, who are now in their 20s, testified that sexual assaults occurred on a nightly basis for years. They received counselling and said they felt their lives had been ruined.
The elder sister recalled being heavily pregnant at 16, by her boyfriend, and that her mother’s partner made two attempts to rape her on one particular night, but she managed to fend him off. In more recent years, she took an overdose and described her suicidal thoughts.
The other sister said: “I suffer severe depression and nightmares where he is choking me and touching my private parts and he is saying, ‘Keep your mouth shut, no one will believe you’.”