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Man jailed for sexually assaulting his partner's niece

He had claimed the child’s mother fabricated the allegation.

A MAN WHO sexually assaulted his partner’s niece and then claimed her mother had fabricated the allegation due to a family feud has been jailed.

Martin Cawley (65) of Drumcairn Parade, Tallaght, was found guilty by a jury of the single count of sexually assaulting the girl at his home in Dublin on a date in October 2013, when she was just 10 years old. The trial was held in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in July this year.

When interviewed by gardaí Cawley gave them a hand-written statement in which he alleged the child’s mother was “behind it” as she was having a “feud” with her sister, the man’s partner. He declined to comment further.

The trial heard the girl was in Cawley’s home on the day in question while her mother visited her grandfather in hospital. She was in the sitting room when Cawley came into the room, exposed himself, held her down and simulated sex while on top of her.

The offence came to light when the girl confided in her sister and her parents went to gardaí in 2015. Cawley was interviewed and charged in early 2016.

Victim impact statement

In a victim impact statement outlined in court by Kate Egan BL, prosecuting, the complainant, who is now 18, said she has suffered from insomnia, depression and high levels of anxiety as a result of the assault. She is constantly covering up her body and has severe trust issues. She worries about how it might affect her in the future.

Egan told the court that the complainant has informed the DPP that she wishes to waive her anonymity, allowing for the naming of Cawley as per the 1981 Rape Act.

The court heard that Cawley has expressed his remorse in general terms but has not said he accepts the verdict of the jury. He has 46 previous convictions including one sexual offence.

John Fitzgerald SC, defending, said that while aged 65, his client is “an elderly man” as a result of various health issues, including diabetes, heart problems and prostate cancer.

He said that Cawley, who is in custody on another matter, has found his time in prison difficult.

Fitzgerald told Judge O’Connor that a prison sentence could be a life sentence for the man, given his health issues. He said the man wishes to return home to his wife and family, who all support him.

Aggravating factors

Judge O’Connor noted that as a result of the sexual assault the woman has struggled with severe anxiety, panic attacks, and nightmares.

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She said the aggravating factors were the breach of trust, and disparity of age, and the impact on the victim. She said the mitigating factors were Cawley’s expressions of “remorse to his family for what the have gone through” and the support by some of the family for him.

Egan outlined to the court on a previous date that naming the defendant would lead to the identification of the complainant which, she noted, is prescribed by the 1981 Rape Act. She said that the complainant has since stated that she wishes to waive her anonymity.

She said she is not instructed then to look for any order from the court.

Fitzgerald said that the situation regarding the rights to anonymity in rape or sexual assault cases was recently clarified by the Court of Appeal which stated that the defendant’s rights to anonymity end on conviction. He said that his client has no rights in this regard but asked the court to note that the complainant has just recently turned 18 and that this was “a family matter”.

Judge O’Connor replied that during the course of the trial the complainant’s family had not shown her “a whole amount of support”. She later added that the trial had split the family and the victim appeared to be largely isolated during the trial.

Judge Karen O’Connor imposed a three year prison term but said she would suspend the final nine months in light of Cawley’s health issues.

She commended the complainant’s bravery in coming forward and said the woman presented herself with great dignity throughout the trial process.

About the author:

Isabel Hayes

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