Limerick man abused baby while parents were out

Conor Gallagher

Reporter:

Conor Gallagher

Patrick Walsh was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment
A COUNTY Limerick man who sexually assaulted a one year old baby who had been left in his care while her parents were out drinking will be sentenced in June.

A COUNTY Limerick man who sexually assaulted a one year old baby who had been left in his care while her parents were out drinking will be sentenced in June.

Michael O’Brien, aged 45, who has an address at Prospect, Oola committed the abuse against a backdrop of severe neglect and physical abuse by the child’s parents.

During a sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Dublin Circuit Court heard there were no clean clothes, electricity or food in the house where the offences happened.

O’Brien is currently serving a 12-year sentence, which was imposed in 2008, for the sexual abuse of two children who were under the age of six.

In 1993 he was jailed for four years for the aggravated sexual assault of a 60 year old woman during a burglary of her home.

The defendant had denied sexually assaulting the baby at her home in the west of Ireland between April 2005 and October 2006. He was convicted by a jury earlier this year.

Anne Rowland BL, prosecuting, said when the baby was born her parents brought her home, handed her to her ten year old sister and told her she had to look after her.

The older sibling told gardaí that on many occasions she returned home to find the baby in a car seat in front of the television while the parents were out drinking. In 2005 the parents returned to the house drunk with O’Brien.

From then on O’Brien regularly stayed in the house and babysat the children.

The older sister told the trial that she was afraid of O’Brien and would lock her and her siblings in a room when he was there.

One day she came home and found O’Brien sexually assaulting the baby, who was naked, in the sitting room. The 10-year-old grabbed a poker and hit O’Brien, telling him to get away from her sister. When the children’s mother returned home she beat the 10-year-old with the poker as punishment for hitting O’Brien.

The child was too afraid to tell her mother about the sexual abuse.

The children were later taken into care where the older sister told gardaí about the sexual assault while detailing the neglect they faced in the house.

A foster parent for the children told the trial that most of them were not toilet trained and they did not know how to use cutlery or a toothbrush.

An examination of O’Brien’s victim showed physical evidence of the sexual abuse and O’Brien was arrested and interviewed. He admitted babysitting the children sometimes but denied sexual abuse.

Geraldine Fitzpatrick SC said her client has being doing a course in prison to help him rehabilitate.

Ms Fitzpatrick asked Judge Sarah Berkeley to consider “the light at the end of the tunnel principle” when imposing sentence,

She also asked the judge to consider the social stigma and publicity associated with the sexual abuse cases but conceded this was a lesser mitigating factor for someone with O’Brien’s convictions.