Damien Farrell, aged 40, of Lymewood Mews, Santry, Dublin, who has relocated to Sligo, pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault at a location in Dublin between April 1, 1992, and September 1, 1992, when his niece was eight years old.
His victim Amy Forde, 32, waived her right to anonymity and delivered a victim impact statement at Farrell’s sentencing hearing at the Central Criminal Court. In it, she described how her family was torn apart as a result of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother’s then 16-year-old brother.
Ms Forde cried as she told Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan that she used to blame herself for what happened and she used to hate herself, but now she was “old enough and strong enough to stand up for myself”.
The mother of four said she found it hard to enjoy her teenage years when her friends were going out and kissing boys. She said she realised that her first sexual experience was with her uncle and that was wrong.
Ms Justice Heneghan said she was taking into account the “devastating effects” the abuse had on Mr Forde and her family.
The judge also took into account Farrell’s guilty pleas, his letter of apology, and his current family circumstances. She imposed a two year sentence suspended for three years. Farrell held his head in his hands and wept as the sentence was read out. He has already been registered as a sex offender.
Garnet Orange, prosecuting, told Ms Justice Heneghan the sexual assaults took place on three occasions while Ms Forde was babysat at her grandmother’s house where Farrell lived.
Mr Orange said that the first two incidents involved physical contact of a sexual nature, mimicking intercourse, while both parties were fully clothed. The accused admitted he and his victim were not wearing clothes during the third offence.
When the offences came to light in 1992 the Farrell family that Farrell attended a weekly boy’s therapy group at a community based treatment programme for sex offenders, the Northside Inter-Agency Project (NIAP), for nine months. When asked by Ms Justice Heneghan if the matter was taken seriously by the family, NIAP founder Joan Cherry said that it was.