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Man who sexually assaulted younger cousin over four years is jailed for 5.5 years

The 28-year-old was convicted of 10 counts of sexual assault following a trial at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in March.

A DUBLIN MAN who sexually assaulted his younger cousin over a four-year period has been jailed for five and a half years. 

The 28-year-old was convicted of 10 counts of sexual assault following a trial at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in March. He can’t be named to protect his victim’s anonymity. 

The man maintains his innocence and does not accept the jury’s verdict, the court was told. 

The offences occurred between 2008 and 2011, when the victim was aged between six and 10 years old, while the accused was then aged between 13 and 17. 

Today, Judge Sarah Berkeley said this was a “sad and difficult case” for all concerned, as it involved family members. 

She said the aggravating features of the case include the victim’s age and the duration of the offending. 

Setting a headline sentence of eight years, the judge noted the mitigation includes that the man was a teenager at the time, his lack of previous convictions and that he has not come to recent garda attention.

She imposed a sentence of five and a half years backdated to when he entered custody. 

A local garda told Tessa White BL, prosecuting, that the first incident occurred in May 2008 during a family holiday in Connacht. The girl went to the teenager’s room and he put her hand on his penis, then forced her to masturbate him. He then removed her leggings and put his fingers in her vagina. 

The sexual assaults primarily occurred in the home of the victim’s grandmother, where the boy was living at the time. The offending included inappropriate touching, masturbation and digital penetration. 

In some incidents, the sexual assaults took place in the boy’s bedroom while pornography was playing. 

The court heard the abuse occurred frequently and came to an end in 2011. During another family holiday in the south-east, the girl saw her cousin masturbate in a play area while no one was present. There was no physical contact at this point. 

When the girl was 17, a sibling entered her bedroom and found notes she had made which said the man had “molested” her while on holiday in Connacht. He showed these notes to their mother, who later confronted the accused. He denied the allegations. 

A complaint was made to gardaí and the accused was co-operative, answering questions during interview. He was deemed unsuitable for juvenile diversion programme. 

He has no previous convictions and has been in custody since his conviction. 

In an impact statement read to the court, the victim said she felt at fault and blamed herself, but now understands this not not her’s to carry. 

Addressing the man, the victim said: “You are to blame.” 

She said she felt “dirty” and “unclean” as a child and these feelings didn’t go away. The victim said her relationship with her mother was affected as she couldn’t understand why she was angry. 

She said all aspects of her life had been affected and “blighted” by what happened and she was retraumatised by the trial process. 

“I’ll never forgive you,” she said, adding that she hoped to begin a “new life” with the support of her family and friends. 

The garda agreed with Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, defending, that his client has not come to recent garda attention and no allegations have been made about his behaviour towards other children when he was living at his grandmother’s house. 

A number of references were handed into the court on the man’s behalf, including from his partner who said he has taken on a fatherly role towards her young child. One testimonial was provided by a friend who provided him with accommodation after he left his grandmother’s home once the allegations came to light. 

Ó Lideadha submitted the aggravating features in this case are not at the “more serious end of the scale”. 

He asked the court to take into account the contents of a psychological report, that his client was a teenager at the time of offending, that he had a difficult childhood and his ADHD diagnosis. 

Judge Berkeley said the court accepted that the man had a difficult childhood, but expressed concern that he was permitted to watch pornography in his bedroom unsupervised, which contributed, in the court’s view, to his offending. 

“Lots of people have trauma in their lives and don’t resort to paedophilia,” she said. 

Today, Judge Berkeley noted the victim’s strength and intelligence, adding that her “distress” was “palpable” during the trial, and particularly when faced with 11 male jurors. Judge Berkeley wished the girl the best for the future. 

She said the girl’s family are “good and decent”. The judge said the court was not criticising the girl’s grandmother, adding that “people do not realise the risk sometimes”. 

She noted while the man had a difficult childhood, he was “well-cared for by his extended family”. 

Judge Berkeley expressed concern that there was “no guidance” in recent legislation to assist a sentencing judge when specifying how long a convicted person should be placed on the sex offenders’ register, which can be up to a maximum of five years if the offence was committed when they were a juvenile. 

Judge Berkeley directed the man be placed on the sex offenders’ register for two and a half years, noting that he has not come to recent garda attention. 

Granting an application to extend legal aid for an appeal to be lodged, the judge suggested that the Court of Appeal might consider this absence of guidance for sentencing judges.

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