Limerick sexual abuse victims speak out as pensioner is to be sentenced

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

The court was told the women were abused by their neighbour while growing up in village

The court was told the women were abused by their neighbour while growing up in village

TWO women who were sexually abused by a neighbour when they were young children have vowed to live the rest of their lives as best they can.

The women, who were aged eight or nine when the abuse started, made their comments in victim statements which were delivered during the sentencing hearing of their abuser.

The now 67-year-old was convicted, at Limerick Circuit Court last October, of three counts of indecent assault and one of sexual assault. He was found not guilty of a number of other charges.

All of the offences happened at locations in the Limerick village where the defendant and victims were living on dates between April 1989 and September 1997.

During a sentencing hearing, Garda Geraldine McCarthy said the victims were friendly with the defendant’s children growing up and that both were regular visitors to his home.

A number of the offences, which involved inappropriate touching, happened in the sitting room of the house while another occurred outside the house during a game of hide and seek.

In her victim impact statement, one of the women said she hopes the defendant receives a custodial sentence.

“The court has provided me the opportunity to be silenced no more. I will fight daily to ensure the impact of his wrong doings no longer play such a big part of my life. I want to deliver a clear message to him that I’m silenced no longer,” she said.

The second woman said she was glad she came forward to gardai. Addressing the defendant directly she said: “I hate you beyond words. You have not won. I’m going to come out the right side of this and enjoy the rest of my life as best I can”.

Eimear Carey BL, said her client has worked all his life and she asked the court to note his age saying a custodial sentence would have a greater impact on him than somebody much younger.

She submitted the offending behaviour had been at the lower end of the scale and noted that a jury had found her client not guilty of a number of other charges relating to the same complainants.

She urged the court not to penalise the defendant for contesting the charges submitting that the cross-examination of the complainants during the trial had been fair. 

She said the man lives in a small village and that his conviction last year has already had a big effect on him and his family.

Judge Tom O’Donnell indicated he would need some time to consider the matter and he adjourned the matter to June.

He directed that the name of the pensioner not be published indicating he may review his decision after he hands down his sentence.

VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENTS

‘I am hopeful justice will be delivered’

The impact of this child sexual abuse on my life has been immense. As a child my sense of safety and security was destroyed. My childhood was taken and I learnt from a formative age that adults could not be trusted and especially men…..

The mistrust of adults which began after the sexual abuse has continued throughout my adult life. I was extremely confused about my own sexuality for a long time, I continue to feel very awkward around men. I am hyper vigilant and I live in constant fear when I am in their company…..

Coming forward to the guards, giving statements and going to court have all been incredibly challenging for me. Retelling the abuse in court has been particularly difficult and I hoped there would be some closure, that he would show some flicker of humanity by pleading guilty.

However, instead he sat here (in court during the trial) acknowledging a sexual interest in children which has created, for me, an intense anger and upset that he does not see the wrong impact of his actions on a young child….

I remain hopeful that justice will be delivered though the court and that he will receive a custodial sentence for my lost childhood and the decades of my adult life which he has robbed from me through acts of sexual abuse.

‘Guilt and shame are your friends’

My trust with boys and men growing up just didn’t exist. One touch in the wrong place and I couldn’t cope. It took me straight back to my childhood. When I met my husband I fell in love with him and after a short time I told him I had been abused and by whom.

It has affected our relationship greatly through the years but I’m so lucky to have a man who will give me space and time when I need it.

Counselling has helped me and I know now that when my husband touches me it is out of love and affection and not to hurt me. Images of the abuse shall never leave me but I’m hoping after today I can move on with my life and be the woman I want to be.

[DEFENDANT], I really hope you know what you did was wrong. Through the years you were never able to look me in the eye. You crossed the road and if you hadn’t time you hung your head. Guilt and shame are your friends, not mine.

Seeing you cycle past my house where my boys would be playing made me sick, upset and very angry.

It was automatic feelings of having to protect my children, like any parent. I knew after that that I had to tell someone, and I’m glad I did. I hate you beyond words.

You have not won. I’m going to come out the right side of this and enjoy my life as best I can.