A paedophile who had unrestricted access to a seven-year-old girl after befriending her family and subsequently acting as a babysitter, has been sentenced to seven years in prison for using her to produce child pornography and for sexually exploiting and assaulting her over a three-year period.
His trial in May at Galway Circuit Criminal Court heard evidence from the victim that the accused regularly stuck his thumb into her mouth, making her gag, every time she met him.
The man had been friends with her mother’s then- partner and he had often stayed with the family, offering to babysit for them when they went out drinking. The family moved address on a number of occasions and the accused would seek them out and come stay with them. Her mother and partner often left him in charge, sometimes for a few days.
Passing sentence, Judge Rory McCabe said the man had been entrusted with the care of the young girl and had abused that trust.
The man, now 56, claimed the girl had made it all up.
The girl told the jury in May that he made her do sexual acts while taking the pictures and if she refused to comply he would perform the sexual act on her himself and hurt her.
She said he would stand at the end of the pool table taking pictures on his phone and sometimes move around the table instructing her which pose he wanted. She could hear the ‘click’ of the camera and see the flash as it took the photos.
She said she was around nine and a half years of age when the last sexual assault took place. She recalled taking a shower one day when the man came into the bathroom and sexually assaulted her. Her mother came into the bathroom and told him to leave. The mother had to return a second time and order him out of the bathroom.
The girl’s mother told the jury she had not reported this last incident to gardaí because she was afraid social workers would take her other children from her.
In her victim impact statement, which the girl read to the court yesterday, she said the abuse began a week after she met him.
“I always remember feeling alone, sad, helpless and very scared. I still feel like this. I try not to remember but can’t stop sometimes and I hate it.
“I still don’t understand why he did this.
“I would like to know why he made me talk to everyone about it in court. This was hurting me again. I just don’t understand at all.”
Judge McCabe imposed a seven-year sentence on each of the 17 charges to run concurrently. He was then placed on the sex offenders’ register for life.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved