A 30-year-old Dublin man who sexually abused his young niece while babysitting her has been jailed for four years by Mr Justice Paul Carney at the Central Criminal Court.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault on the girl in her house at a date in early spring of 1996 when she was seven years of age.
Sergeant Paul Slaterry told the court the girl had been sleeping and woke up to find her uncle lying beside her and rubbing against her.
She told gardai, when she made the complaint four years later, she had woken up when he began to touch her "back bottom" with his "willie", but she was so frightened that she did not move nor indicate she had woken up.
He left the room soon aferwards to go to the toilet and came back and began touching her the same way again.
The now 13-year-old girl wrote a letter to Mr Justice Carney stating the incident had changed her whole life and that she hated "having to think about, knowing I will never forget about it."
Her father told Mr Justice Carney: "My daughter is just 13. Half of her life has been taken up by this. Her innocence as a child has been taken away. My whole family has been torn apart."
He said his daughter cannot bear to be in the presence of an adult male anymore and leaves immediately if any such person is present in the same room.
He said he saw her half asleep and waking up once, and a "look of absolute terror" that he saw on her face at the time was something he would never forget.
He said he and his wife, who was the defendant's sister, had found it hard to talk about the incident when it first came to light in 2000, four years after it occurred.
Mr Justice Carney said the sentence he imposed might not satisfy the girl's father but he was constrained by the fact that the maximum sentence for sexual assault was five years as the incident occurred before September 2001 when the Sexual Offenders Act came into place.
He also had to take into account that the State was not making a case for "penetrative sex" which would have increased the sentence.
He also took into consideration his lack of any previous convictions, his lack of guilt, and his 'apparent' remorse and suspended unconditionally the final year of the sentence.
Mr Justice Carney certified him as a sex offender and ordered post release supervision.