A COUNTY Limerick man in has been found guilty of sexually assaulting two sisters over a three year period.
Kilmallock Court heard that the abuse began when one was 12 years of age and the other a year older. The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons to protect the identity of the victims, was charged with a total of 14 sexual assaults on dates between 2010 and 2013.
The case was adjourned from September to this week after the defendant’s solicitor, Andrew D’Arcy, made a number of legal submissions which Judge Mary Larkin dismissed.
On the first day in court evidence was given of the accused touching their vaginas; putting his hands under their pants at their waist; and placing his hand on their chests.
One of the girls said: “It happened every time over two year period” and “he would touch us, be really cuddly in a kind of sexual way”.
The accused took the stand and said he “never touched those girls in an inappropriate way”. He denied touching their “private parts”
Due to the way he would sit on the couch with the girls he said it was “physically impossible to stretch down to their vaginas”.
Mr D’Arcy put it to him that one of the victims said: “It was possible that because they didn’t bring it to his attention he didn’t know.”
“I think now as a man in my fifties I would know if I touched someone inappropriately,” he replied.
He agreed that he was a “touchy feely person” and that he could have touched their skin when he had his arm wrapped around them “like a sash” over their chest.
“Resting on their chest?” asked Mr D’Arcy.
“No, between their waist and chest,” he said, but it was possible his hand was touching their skin depending on what clothes they were wearing. The court heard that the girls - who are not related to him by blood – visited his house after school.
“I would see if they wanted something to eat. One liked tomato soup, the other liked toasted sandwiches. I always treated the girls with love, affection and fairness,” he said. The allegations came as a “complete shock” to him.
Sergeant Michelle Leahy asked him about his interview under caution with Sergeant Helen Holden in Bruff Garda Station where he denied putting his hand regularly on one of the girls vaginas.
“I might have had my hand on her inner thigh but not on her crotch,” he said. He told Sgt Holden that he taught them to tell the truth. “If that is what they said I believed they said it,” he replied in the interview, but denied in court what they said about him.
His partner took the stand and denied that one of the girls said she told him not to “touch inappropriately”.
“I never had to say it. I would have pulled him up on it straight away. I know he loves those girls to bits,” she said.
Mr D’Arcy asked her what would happen to the relationship if she saw him touch the girls inappropriately.
“I would be gone,” she said. When she became aware of the allegations she said “devastated wasn’t the word”.
Sgt Leahy said if her job meant she sometimes worked in the evenings and she agreed. Judge Larkin asked why does she think the girls made the allegations.
“I honestly don’t know where it is coming from. We adore those girls and would do anything to keep them safe,” she said.
Mr D’Arcy said the difficulty with cases of this nature is that it is effectively one persons’ word against another unless there is corroborating evidence.
“The accused partner’s hasn’t seen any inappropriateness,” said Mr D’Arcy, who added his client had no previous convictions.
Judge Larkin said she was satisfied the accused touched the skin, breast area, placed his hands on thighs, crotch and on the area of the vagina. She ordered a full probation report and victim impact assessments. It was adjourned to January.