The Irish Examiner
An ex-soldier from Kildare who sexually abused his two daughters when the were children was given sentences totalling 25.5 years on nine sample charges at Naas Circuit Court for crimes described as ‘horrific’ by Judge Michael O’Shea.
‘These were two young vulnerable children,’ the judge said.
‘He was in the position of a parent, a position of trust, a position of dominance.’
‘There was an enormous breach of the trust of a parent, the love of a parent, the respect of a parent.’
The man, now in his late 50s, who cannot be named for legal reasons, began assaulting one of his daughters when she was seven years old, the court heard, forcing her to masturbate him.
After the assaults, the man told her ‘This was a secret and she wasn’t to tell anybody’, prosecuting barrister Mr Orla Crowe BL said.
The court heard that on one occasion when she was eight or nine years old, the girl was put to bed by her mother because she had a temperature.
But later, her father went to her bedroom, brought her downstairs, and sexually abused her. The abuse lasted for four or five years.
It was not until 2003 that she was able to talk about what had happened, when she told her partner.
‘He got very upset initially and then he got very protective,’ she said.
‘I suffer from depression. Some of the time I had suicidal thoughts but I never did anything about it,’ she said in a victim impact statement.
‘The whole family has been affected by this.’
Two years later in 2005, she told her older sister about the abuse. It was then she learned that her sister had also been abused.
The older sister was abused by her father between for four years, Det Garda Maeve Ward told the court.
She remembered that for her 12th birthday, she was given a musical instrument, and when she played it for her father, he touched her breasts.
‘She didn’t like it, she knew it wasn’t right,’ Ms Crowe said.
She said her father would call her to his room, telling her to comb his hair for dandruff. While she did so, she was sexually abused as her father touched her and forced her to masturbate him. The abuse lasted until she was 16 years old.
The abuse happened at least two or three times a week, sometimes every day,a nd she would stay out late to avoid her father.
The last time she was abused was on a school lunch break when she went home to change into sports gear. When she heard her father she hid between two beds, but he called out her name, made her remove her tracksuit bottoms, and sexually abused her.
The woman later tried to take her own life, taking and overdose and attempting to slit her wrists.
She said she did not make a statement to Gardai about the abuse at the time, because she was afraid she would not be believed.
Afterwards, while getting treatment for depression and suicidal tendencies, she told a counsellor and her mother about what had happened.
The two sisters found the courage together to come forward and went to the Gardai.
‘The effects of the abuse have been both physical and psychological,’ she said in a victim impact statement. ‘I tried to kill myself.’
‘I lost my childhood innocence.’
Det Garda Ward said that she corroborated the sisters’ stories by talking to their mother. In addition to being told about the abuse by one of her daughters during counselling, the mother told the detective that the girls didn’t like to stay in the house when she wasn’t there.
She said she confronted her husband about what her daughter said in 1995, but he denied everything at that stage.
The mother felt a terrible guilt that she did not know what was going on in her home.
Det Garda Ward said that the abusive father came to the Garda station voluntarily and made a cautioned statement. He admitted only that he might have touched his daughter’s breast ‘once or twice’, but claimed he had ‘a poor recollection because of drink.’
In a later statement he conceded what he had done, and entered a guilty plea at a Circuit court sitting in May 2008.
Mr Roger Sweetman SC said the his client, who was still living in the family home, was living in the box room and shunned by his family, and his wife had sought a judicial separation.
‘He has absolutely no contact with his family members, all of whom have rejected him,’ the barrister said.
‘Through his ill-doing he has completely destroyed any relationship with his family.’
His client had been assaulted by family members and others since the abuse, suffering permanent injuries as a result.
The court was told a consultant psychologist’s report said the abuser had ‘little or no empathy’ about the effects of his actions and had ‘difficulty understanding why his family had distanced them,selves from him in the past three years.’
Judge Michael O’Shea sentenced the man to three years imprisonment on each of six charges of indecent assault, and to two and a half years each on three years of sexual assault, a total of 25.5 years. The sentences will ruin concurrently. On his release he will be added to the sex offenders register for ten years.