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Man forced stepdaughter to wear dog collar as he carried out abuse, court hears

George Crombie told his victim there would be “murder in this flat” if she told her mother about the abuse.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

A WOMAN WHOSE stepfather put a dog lead around her neck and sexually assaulted her as a child has condemned him for betraying her love and trust in him.

George Crombie told his stepdaughter there would be “murder in this flat” if she told her mother about the abuse, which took place over a three-year period when she was aged between 10 and 13 years old.

“How could I ever get over what my stepfather, who I loved and trusted, did to me as a 10-year-old girl,” Laura Johnston, now in her twenties, told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in her victim impact statement. The court heard she wished to waive her right to anonymity.

Crombie (47) with an address in Bloomfield Avenue, South Circular Road, Dublin 8 pleaded guilty to eight counts of sexually assaulting Johnston in their Ringsend home between February 2004 and December 2006.

Garda Sandra Fitzgerald agreed with Dean Kelly BL, prosecuting, that Crombie had been with her mother since she was a small child and Johnston had a number of younger half-siblings.

‘Thought he was her real father’

The court heard the woman thought Crombie was her real father until she was aged 10, when her mother told her he was in fact her stepfather. When told the news, Johnston showed her support for Crombie by ripping up the birth cert that said he was not her real father.

“She indicated she saw (Crombie) as her real father and had no difficulty with the news she had received,” Kelly said.

However, shortly after finding out Crombie was not her father, he started acting differently towards her, the court heard. “He started questioning her about her friends and boys,” Kelly said.

Crombie then started going into her bedroom when her mother and siblings were asleep and touching Johnston while she was lying in bed, the court heard. The abuse happened every Thursday and Saturday night, when Crombie had been out drinking.

He entered her bedroom and touched her stomach, legs and bottom while she lay in bed. She believed he had a fetish for stomachs and bottoms, Kelly said.

“(Johnston) said this became as regular as clockwork,” Kelly said.

On another occasion, Crombie put a dog lead around Johnston’s neck while he sexually assaulted her.

On another occasion, Crombie had a knife stuck in the waistband of his pyjama bottoms and she was “petrified”. Eventually, when she threatened to tell her mother about the abuse, Crombie told her:

If you tell your mam there will be murder in this flat.

The abuse stopped after this incident, Kelly said. Shortly afterwards, the relationship between Crombie and Johnston’s mother broke down and they split up. Johnston later confided in her mother, who organised counselling for her. She went to gardaí in 2015.

“It has affected my relationship with my sisters, who don’t wish to believe the horrific truth of what their own father did to their sister,” she told the court.

‘Shameful and disgusting’

Crombie made full and immediate admissions to gardaí when he was interviewed. He has seven previous convictions for road traffic offences and larceny.

Dominic McGinn SC, defending, said Crombie was extremely remorseful for the “completely wrong, shameful and disgusting” offences he carried out on his stepdaughter.

He said Crombie had not shown any “proclivity” towards this kind of offending behaviour and has not carried out any other similar offences. He said the catalyst behind Crombie’s offending behaviour was alcohol abuse, which he has since addressed.

“He has destroyed Ms Johnston’s childhood and perhaps her life,” McGinn said. “But he has since taken steps to address the root cause of that, which was his alcohol abuse.”

He added Crombie was “all alone in the world” as his family relations have completely broken down since the abuse came to light.

In Crombie’s defence, McGinn said he never touched Johnston’s genitals during the abuse.

Judge Melanie Greally adjourned the matter for sentencing next Monday.

Comments have been turned off for legal reasons

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Isabel Hayes

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