Judge Tom O'Donnell
THERE was applause from the public gallery at Limerick Circuit Court when a pensioner was jailed for sexually abusing two friends of his daughters when they were children.
The now 68-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, by a jury, 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.
The victims were aged eight or nine when the abuse started.
Imposing sentence, Judge Tom O’Donnell said there had been a “considerable breach of trust” and that the “element of planning and pre-meditation” was an aggravating factor.
In victim impact statements, which were read to the court, the women vowed to live the rest of their lives as best they can.
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 hoped the defendant received a custodial sentence.
“The court has provided me the opportunity to be silenced no more,” she said.
“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.”
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 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.
Imposing sentence, Judge O’Donnell noted there is was a lack of remorse from the defendant who, he accepted, had an excellent work ethic during his working life.
He also noted his previous good record
He said he had been in a position of trust around the time the offences occurred and that he has been ostracised in his own community since.
The pensioner, who voluntarily entered custody earlier this year “for his own safety”, was placed on the Register of Sexual Offenders following his conviction.
The judge imposed prison sentences totalling four years – backdating it to February 21, last.
When the sentence was handed down, there was spontaneous applause from the public gallery where the victims and members of their families were sitting.