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Man given partially suspended sentence for sexually abusing young niece over two-year period

The man was sentenced at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

A MAN WHO sexually abused his niece over a two-year period beginning when she was six years old has received a partially suspended sentence.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the man was aged 17 when he began molesting the six-year-old girl while babysitting her. The abuse continued for the next two years.

It stopped after one incident where the child, then aged nine, told the uncle “I don’t like this and it has to stop”. She told him she never liked it and the court heard the abuse stopped then.

Passing sentence today, Judge Pauline Codd said the assaults involved “a gross breach of trust” as the now 25-year-old man had been entrusted by the victim’s parents to look after the girl when they were not around.

The judge said the man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, was a minor when some of the offences occurred, but they continued when he became an adult.

She noted that he has been assessed by the Probation Service as being at a moderate risk of re-offending.

She sentenced the man to five years imprisonment, but suspended the final two years on strict conditions, including that he follow all directions of the Probation Service for two years post-release.

The judge said she wished to commend the victim in this case for her courage in coming forward.

In a victim impact statement, read out by prosecuting counsel Maddie Grant BL at a previous sentencing hearing, the now 12-year-old victim said that she felt for a long time that she was to blame for what her uncle was doing.

“I thought I was born only to be used by him and pleasure him. He made me feel useless and that I was only there for his satisfaction,” she said.

She said the abuse has left her feeling uncomfortable and unsafe around men, including her father and brothers. She said she also feels she cannot show affection and she said she uses clothes to cover up and hide her body.

She said she thought that her uncle may have abused her because “he didn’t know what having a girlfriend was like or how to pleasure a girl”.

Victim disclosed abuse

The man pleaded guilty to sexual assault of a child at a place in Dublin on dates between January 2012 and September 2014.

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A garda witness told the court that he began investigating the case in May 2018, when gardaí became aware that the victim had disclosed the abuse to her parents.

Seamus Clarke SC, defending, said his client was deeply remorseful for his actions and “if he could take it all back, he would”. He said the man told gardaí that his own grandfather used to “touch” him and this went on for a year.

“He knew what he had done was extremely wrong and the worst thing he had done in his life,” counsel said.

Counsel urged the court to take into consideration the man’s age at the time and said there is case law which recognises that young adults do not suddenly turn into mature adults when they turn 18.

He said his client stopped the abuse as soon as the child told him to and when the child later told other adults his client admitted his actions to them.

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Declan Brennan & Brion Hoban

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