‘We were a really close family... now we are broken’

A young man who raped his niece repeatedly and frequently for seven years has been jailed for 10 years.

The 25-year-old man from the Midlands, who can’t be named to protect the victim’s anonymity, was 15 when he began molesting the seven-year-old. The abuse quickly progressed to rape and anal rape. The assaults took place in a relative’s house in the Midlands, in a treehouse in their grandparents’ garden, and in the girl’s house when her uncle was babysitting her and her younger sister.

The man pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three counts of sexual assault and seven counts of raping his niece between January 2007 and August 2014.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said the evidence was such that one would recoil in disgust. He said the accused had a full moral culpability for his actions and was an adult for the latter part of the abuse. In mitigation, he noted the man was genuinely remorseful and he accepted he had a degree of naivety. He noted the man had engaged in therapy aimed at risk management and preventing recidivism.

In a victim impact statement, the girl, now aged 17, said that her rapist was like a brother to her and that she felt betrayed by him.

“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.

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 had particularly suffered: “It can never be the same. It’s like a death to me.”

The man told gardaí he always felt “terrible” after each incident of abuse, the court heard. “He said there was always the guilt of forcing her into doing what she didn’t want to do,” said Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting. “He said he always felt awful for days afterwards and contemplated suicide over this.”

The court heard the man’s parents, his victim’s grandparents, supported their son. They sat on opposite sides of the court from their daughter and granddaughter.

Mr Justice McCarthy said the starting point for an appropriate sentence was 15 years, but after taking into account the mitigation, including an early guilty plea, he reduced this to 10 years. He also ordered that the man be subject to post-release supervision for five years.

The mother of the child had described how the abuse had caused a crack in her family “that no time will ever heal”. In her victim impact statement read out in court the woman said she would never get over the fact her younger 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”.


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