A man who raped his cousin when she was a child nearly 40 years ago has been jailed for nine years.
The 60-year-old Galway man, who cannot be named to protect the anonymity of his victim, was found guilty by a jury of two counts of indecently assaulting his cousin and two counts of raping her at her family home on unknown dates between 1982 and 1984.
She was aged between seven and nine at the time, while her cousin – who was also her godfather – was aged between 22 and 24.
The man, who is now married with adult children, does not accept the verdicts of the jury and maintains his innocence, the Central Criminal Court heard.
Sentencing him today, Ms Justice Carmel Stewart said the man had carried out a serious abuse of the trust placed in him. She said his offending was in the most serious category.
She handed down a 10 year sentence and suspended the final year on a number of conditions.
The judge paid tribute to the victim and thanked her for her dignified victim impact statement, which she read out in court earlier this month.
“I hope in time you can gain some closure, live a full and peaceful life and put these events from your childhood behind you,” the judge said. The woman thanked her.
In her victim impact statement, the woman said her cousin was trusted and respected by her parents, who gave him the honour of being her godfather.
“What this man did with this privilege was to sexually abuse and rape me, starting from when I was seven years old,” the woman told the court.
She said she was so “petrified” of the man that she couldn't share the burden of what was happening to her with her siblings, despite them sharing all her childhood secrets.
“When I was seven, I should have had a carefree childhood with no worries,” she said. Instead, she said she lived in constant fear of her cousin.
She said she had to invite him to her wedding day for fear it would raise questions among the family. When the truth came out in 2016, she said she was relieved she no longer had to keep her secret of 30 years.
“Not once has this man apologised or shown remorse for what he did,” she said.
“But I am a survivor. It hasn't been an easy road. But I am one of the lucky ones.”
She said the revelations of the sexual abuse had torn apart her extended family. Her elderly mother remains unaware of what happened as the family do not want to pain her with the knowledge of what happened to her daughter, the court heard.
The woman thanked the jury for their verdicts. “They believed my story when that man tried to make out I was a liar,” she said.
A local garda told Paul Carroll SC, prosecuting, that the man – who was 14 years older than his cousin - worked regularly on the victim's family farm.
During the summer of either 1982 or 1983, she was riding on a tractor with him when he indecently assaulted her. He then took her to a hay field and raped her.
The court heard the little girl felt sick and was in considerable pain. The man told her not to tell anyone.
On another occasion that summer, he drove her to a hayfield and orally raped her. The following summer, he again took her to a hayfield and raped her.
Damien Colgan SC, defending, said his client had no previous convictions and has worked all his life.
He has been in custody since he was found guilty last February and his family has struggled to pay their mortgage. “Financially, they are in dire straits,” Mr Colgan said.
Prison is also harder for the man at the moment due to the pandemic, and he is in lockdown for 23 hours a day, the court heard.