An intellectually challenged man who sexually abused his niece when she was a child two decades ago has been jailed for one year.
Farm labourer William O'Riordan, 48, of Derry, Banteer, Co Cork, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three counts of sexual abuse at a place in Co Cork on three occasions between September 2001 and March 2006.
At a hearing in December, Mr Justice Paul McDermott noted that while O'Riordan has a reduced cognitive functionality, he knew at the time what he was doing was wrong and had not shown any remorse or regret for his actions.
The judge said he was taking into consideration the defendant's intellectual challenges, which would make his time in custody more difficult. The court heard while O'Riordan had always lived with his elderly mother and they effectively looked after each other, he was “completely independent” of her.
His mother is in her 80s and has postponed surgery a number of times because of the case. She intends to convalescence and O'Riordan is the only person available to care for her at home, Alice Fawsitt SC, defending, told the court.
Mr Justice McDermott previously deferred the sentence to accommodate his mother's surgery and remanded O'Riordan on bail.
Imposing sentence on Tuesday, he suspended the final two years of a three-year prison sentence on conditions including that O'Riordan keep the peace and be of good behaviour for three years.
In her victim impact statement, the woman said that she wanted her uncle’s name to be published in reporting the case.
She said the offences occurred when she was between nine and 10 years old and O’Riordan was in his 30s. She said she could clearly remember feelings of being sad, confused and shamed and “felt failed by those that should have protect me”.
She said the last time he abused her, she screamed for her grandmother and she never stayed over in the house again.
“It made me very sad. It made me not want to return,” the woman said. She described O’Riordan as “robbing my childhood” and said he “destroyed all my lovely memories I could have had”.
She said the abuse had affected every aspect of her life and she feared “any man being around my kids”.
The woman said while O’Riordan had pleaded guilty, he has “shown no remorse towards me” or the “damage and friction” he had caused in her life.
An investigating garda told John O’Kelly SC, prosecuting, that the offending occurred in the victim's grandmother’s home where her uncle lived. Her uncle was her father’s brother and she stayed over there quite often after her parent’s separation.
The woman made a formal complaint to gardaí in July 2018, during which she outlined three incidences of sexual abuse by her uncle.
She said the first incident occurred when he was playing with her in the hall of her grandmother’s home and he suggested that he climb on her back. O’Riordan fell on top of her and she could feel him pushing his genital area against her.
The second time, she was sleeping over in the house with a friend and her uncle was drunk. He came into her bedroom and touched her vagina under her clothing. She told him to stop and he left the room and she got up and locked the bedroom door.
On the final occasion, she was in the kitchen making tea when her uncle came behind her and touched her vagina inside her clothing. She screamed for her grandmother and she told the woman her uncle had “been at her” and her grandmother told her son to leave the girl alone.
O’Riordan was arrested after the woman made the complaint but he denied anything untoward had occurred between himself and his niece.
The garda agreed with Ms Fawsitt that her client had previously been diagnosed as having a moderate intellectual disability.
Ms Fawsitt said while her client lives with his mother and has always lived there, he is independent of her. He is unable to read or write and has worked consistently as a farm labourer most of his life. He also rears horses on the family land.