Wicklow man jailed for three years for abuse of nieces

A north Wicklow man who sexually abused two nieces over 30 years ago has been jailed for three years by Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill at the Central Criminal Court.

A north Wicklow man who sexually abused two nieces over 30 years ago has been jailed for three years by Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill at the Central Criminal Court.

The 55-year-old man pleaded guilty to eight sample charges of indecent assault from 47 on the indictment. The charges were of indecent assault on one niece on dates in 1970 -71 and 1973-74, and six counts in relation to the second niece on dates from 1977 to 1981.

He was given a one and a half year sentence for the assaults carried out on the first girl and terms of one and a half years and three years on the second victim. All sentences will run concurrently.

Mr Justice O'Neill said: "It must become ingrained in the community that these foul acts on children must be justly punished, regardless of the passing of time."

He said evidence had established that the man grew up "in a family where sexual abuse was rife".

"You were exposed to wholly inappropriate sexualisation in your parents' bedroom and some sexual abuse from your father," Mr Justice O'Neill told him.

He noted he had not been in trouble for 26 years since the offences were committed and was unlikely to re-offend. However, he said this abuse was "of the upmost gravity perpetrated on defenceless children".

The two women had suffered psychological and emotional injuries as a result and had also been abused by other members of their family. Mr Justice O'Neill said he didn't accept the defence submission that he committed the crimes because of a break-up with his girlfriend.

The man who cannot be named for legal reasons pleaded not guilty to two charges of indecently assaulting the women on dates but changed his plea before his trial was scheduled to begin last month.

Detective Sergeant Tom Byrne told prosecuting counsel, Ms Deirdre Murphy SC (with Ms Lisa Dempsey BL), that the family was brought up and had lived at various addresses in south Dublin and north Wicklow.

He said the investigation began as a result of a complaint made in 1999 and resulted in prosecution of the victims' father and several uncles for sexual assaults on female family members.

He said one of the girls remembered the first assault taking place in 1969 or 1970 when she was eight or nine years old. Her uncle came into her room and asked her to get some sweets that were hidden on the top of the wardrobe. She climbed on to a chair and felt around but couldn't find anything.

Det. Sgt Byrne said she remembered she was wearing a short dress and he put his hand up her skirt before lifting her onto the bed where he started kissing her.

Several male teenage friends of hers who were playing outside then came in and also kissed her.

The same girl also remembered the defendant giving her sweets to sit on a rock facing the house with her legs apart while he looked at her from his bedroom and felt himself.

Det. Sgt Byrne said her cousin also remembered being given sweets to sit on the rock facing the bedroom. She also had clear memories of an incident at her Confirmation when she met him at the side of the church.

He told her she looked nice and said she was "turning him on" as he rubbed her breasts through her clothes.

On another occasion he came into her room, very drunk and told her "tonight was a special night and she would get to go to his room".

He then pulled her out of bed by the arm and started dragging her towards his bedroom. Det. Sgt Byrne said she was crying and begging him to stop. When they got to his room he threw her on the bed and climbed on top of her, holding her hand down above her head with one arm.

Det. Sgt Byrne said she was still crying and struggling and he picked up a pillow and put it over her face. When she stopped crying and lay still, she said it was as if "all the fun had gone out of it for him". He threw her out of the bed and said she disgusted him.

Dr Patrick Randall, assistant director of the Granada Institute, told Mr Diarmaid McGuinness SC, defending, that the man was at a very early stage in accepting that what he had done was wrong but that he was at a very low risk of re-offending based on extensive psychometric tests.

Dr Randall agreed with Ms Murphy that the defendant had said the abuse grew out of the "immense disappointment" in the break-up with a girlfriend and that he took out his anger and frustration on the two girls in a sexual act but said that he was "verbalising more understanding than he has".

Mr McGuinness submitted that the crimes had happened a long time ago and his client had lived "a blameless existence" for the past 20 years or so. He didn't perceive at the time that his actions would cause any permanent harm.

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