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86-year-old man given suspended sentence for rape and repeated child sexual abuse

Justice Michael White said that if Kiernan was a younger man the court would be imposed a serious custodial sentence.

Image: MAXWELLS DUBLIN

A FORMER FARM labourer has received a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to the sexual abuse of two children over six decades ago.

John Joe Kiernan (86) repeatedly abused the brother and sister when they were aged between four and 10. He raped the girl in her bedroom and threatened to “bury her” after another attack.

Justice Michael White said that if Kiernan was a younger man the court would be imposed a serious custodial sentence but, given his age and ill-health, he did not think it was appropriate to jail him. 

Kiernan of Forthill, Arva, Co Cavan pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to six sample counts of indecently assaulting one boy between 1958 and 1963 and five sample counts of indecently assaulting the boy’s younger sister between 1959 and 1963. 

He also admitted raping this girl in her childhood bedroom on an unknown date between 1959 and 1964. All the offending took place on or near the victims’ family farmland in Arva where Kiernan worked as a farm labourer. 

He imposed sentences of eight years for the rape and five years and two years for the indecent assaults. He suspended all sentences in their entirety on condition that Kiernan keep the peace. 

In his sentencing he noted that Kiernan has already served some time in prison for indecent assaults on three boys and one girl. This offending took place between 1963 and 1973.

At the sentencing hearing last week Mr Justice White praised the “unbelievable courage” of the victims for going to gardaí last year (2017). 

Monica Lawlor BL, prosecuting, told the court that the two victims, who are now in their 60s, wished for Kiernan’s name to be published. 

The father-of-two was previously jailed in 2005 for indecent assaults on three young children on dates between 1963 and 1973. 

Detective Sergeant Sharon Walsh told the court that Kiernan would regularly abuse the children. He would orally rape the boy on fishing trips and this victim told gardaí: “I never remember being afraid. This was just normal life for me”. 

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Declan Brennan

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