I will try to live fear-free, says victim

A stepfather was jailed for three and a half years yesterday for sexually assaulting his partner’s daughter from when she was aged 12 — getting into her bed each time with the words, “Push over, love.”

I will try to live fear-free, says victim

A stepfather was jailed for three and a half years yesterday for sexually assaulting his partner’s daughter from when she was aged 12 — getting into her bed each time with the words, “Push over, love.”

Injured party, Neidín Carroll, who is now 21, waived her right to anonymity as 43-year-old Colm Byrne of 125 Pearse Road, Ballyphehane, Cork, was sentenced to five years with the last 18 months suspended.

Judge James McCourt said Byrne was in loco parentis when the victim was 12 and he was in his late 30s.

Byrne was convicted by the unanimous verdict of the jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court of sexually assaulting his partner’s daughter three times. Detective Garda Anne O’Sullivan investigated the complaint made by Neidín Carroll, who read her victim impact statement yesterday.

“My childhood and teenage years were tarnished by one man’s actions, one woman’s inaction.

“I have spent the last decade, in every sleeping and waking moment, being afraid.

I hope that as a result of this verdict and punishment that I will finally find closure and can now try to live fear-free in my adult life the way I should have been able to live as a child.

“Because of the abuse that I have survived, even when it was brought to the immediate attention of someone who was supposed to protect me as a child, I have developed unrelenting feelings of abandonment, anxiety, episodes of PTSD, suicidal thoughts and tendencies and self-harm which has left me with physical scars that are a constant visible reminder of the emotional and mental turmoil that I have endured.

“I unfortunately had to quit college. Having an unstoppable feeling of fear, fear for life and safety, has been completely debilitating. I am on edge all the time, fearing for when the next time will be. It has affected every relationship that I have had.”

The accused pleaded not guilty to three charges of sexually assaulting his partner’s daughter at the family home on unspecified dates during three distinct periods between June 2010 and June 2012.

Dermot Sheehan, prosecution barrister, said in his opening: “This lady is 21 years old. Her parents separated and her mother started going out with the defendant.

“She (the complainant) was living with her mother… She says she was in the bottom bunk bed, that he got into the bed with her. During that time he sexually assaulted her. She describes him stroking the boobs and the area around the vagina.

“The second time, again he came to the bunk bed. She was asleep in the bunk bed. He groped her, again touching her boobs and being rubbed down around her pyjama pants around her hip and waist.

“Finally, she was in Junior Cert where there was another incident in her bed. He came to the room again and stroked her hip [outside her pyjamas]. This time she asked him to stop,” Mr Sheehan alleged in opening the case.

Mr Kelly said the defendant accepted that the jury had found him guilty but did not accept that he had done anything wrong.

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