A LIMERICK man who began sexually abusing his niece from the age of six has been jailed for 15 years at the Central Criminal Court.
The 48-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, later began raping the child from when she was aged nine on a regular basis in his bedsit in Co Clare.
The court heard how the child would beg her mother not to let her stay over with him, telling her: “Please Mum, don’t let me go, I’ll be good”. During the trial the victim said her mother would still let her uncle take the child to the flat every few weeks.
While staying over with him the man would molest the child and force her to touch his private parts. He also forced her to perform more explicit sexual acts on him, including oral rape.
Last December a jury found him guilty of eight counts of rape and 17 counts of sexual assault of the child between October 1998 and April 2003.
The man had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to 32 counts of raping and assaulting the woman causing her harm between October 1998 and October 2004. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on seven counts.
Mr Justice Paul Carney declared the man a sex offender and said he had “lost his most fruitful source of mitigation” by denying the charge, not showing any remorse and having previous convictions.
He referred to it as “a distressing case” and took into account the “inherent gravity of the offence, the breach of trust involved, the age of the victim, the multiplicity of charges, the period of time over which it extended and the impact it had on the victim”.
Mr Justice Carney said it was “an additional aggravating factor” that the man had filmed the abuse, had “plied her with alcohol, including poitín” and had shown her pornography.
He sentenced the man to 15 years in prison and said there was “nothing of consequence in favour of him” to allow for any of that term to be suspended. The man was ordered to carry out 18 months post release supervision.
After his arrest in 2012 the man told gardaí that the victim was a liar. He said that he had taken care of her and her siblings because their parents were alcoholics and were unable to look after them.
He claimed that she was making these allegations because of a fist fight between him and her father in 2010. The man has previous convictions dating from 1984 to 2012 for assault and road traffic public order offences.
In her victim impact report the woman, now in her early 20s, said that instead of looking after her, uncle had ruined her childhood.
Describing her anxiousness at visiting his flat knowing the abuse she would suffer there each time, she said: “I used to be frightened for my life”. She said she turned to alcohol at a young age.
Detective Garda Michael Kelly told Anne-Marie Lawlor BL, prosecuting, that the man gave her poitín and other alcohol to get her to carry out sexual acts on him.
The victim realised the man was recording the abuse when on one occasion he played video footage of it to her. While doing this he looked over at her and smiled. He would also play pornographic movies to her.
He would buy her clothes and jewellery and bring her to the cinema. These were novelties for her as she didn’t get gifts at home, the court heard. She told the court these were a form of bribery.
In 2010 her uncle met her and showed her a photograph of her as a child and told her it was a picture he had taken after a sexual act. She said she felt sick and disgusted. She went to gardaí to report the abuse the following year.
Towards the end of the trial last month Mr Justice Carney went into hospital and dealt with some questions from the deliberating jury from his hospital bed.