A girl was sexually abused and exploited from the age of six by three of her older brothers in a highly dysfunctional home in Connacht, the Central Criminal Court has heard.
One of the girl's brothers, who is now aged 26, was today jailed for four years for six sample counts of sexual assault and one count of anally raping the girl over a five year period between 2007 and 2011.
The court heard the man – who was aged between 14 and 17 at the time – admitted to gardaí that he sexually assaulted his little sister about three times a week from when she was aged between six to 10 years old. The anal rape was a single “isolated incident”, the court heard.
Three other brothers were charged in relation to sexual allegations against their sister, the court heard. The case against one brother was dropped. The other two brothers, now aged 33 and 29, pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of sexual exploitation of their sister respectively.
Last month, a judge in a Connacht court handed down sentences of three-and-a-half years and two years to the men but the sentence was deferred and the case was adjourned to January next year.
None of the men can be named to protect the identity of their sister.
Sentencing the first brother today, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said it took “enormous personal courage” on the part of the victim to come forward to gardaí about the abuse she had suffered.
The court heard the woman's parents did not support her decision to disclose the abuse.
“It's clear she feels a lack of parental support for her decision to go to the gardaí,” Mr Justice McDermott said.
It should not need to be emphasised, but she is the one who has been grievously wronged by the offences committed against her.
The judge said the damage done to families by sexual abuse was “enormous” and the blame lay solely with the perpetrator and not the victim. He noted there was a level of “dysfunctional sexual activity” among some members of the family.
The man himself disclosed he was sexually abused by an older teenager from when he was aged five to 12. His brothers' psychological records were also opened to the court, alleging that they too were sexually abused as children.
The now 19-year-old woman was not in court for her brother's sentence. “She said she wouldn't be able to face him,” a garda liaison officer told the court earlier this month.
The woman still lives with her parents, while her brother lives with one of the brothers against whom the charges were dropped.
In a victim impact statement read out in court by the garda, the woman said she would never be the same again because of the abuse she suffered. She said the abuse has caused problems with her relationship with her parents.
The woman's father was previously in court to support his son, the court heard.
Roisin Lacey SC, defending, said her client's actions were “an appalling set of offending circumstances” within a “family dynamic involving sexual abuse”.
Reports handed into court showed a number of boys in the family displayed highly sexualised behaviour.
She said her client started abusing his sister after watching pornography. The abuse stopped when he was 17 years old and “wised up”, the court heard.
The court heard allegations some of the older boys were abused by a male relative. This abuse appears to have “trickled down” through the family.
The reports on the family made for “appalling reading”, Ms Lacey said.
This young man is likely an incredibly damaged young man who was damaged from a young age.
Mr Justice McDermott handed down a sentence of five-and-a-half years and suspended the final 18 months of it on a number of conditions, including that the man not be in the presence of children on his own.