The sentencing hearing took place at Clonmel Courthouse
A MAN who sexually assaulted his goddaughter in her bed following a night out has been jailed for four years.
The 46-year-old, who can’t be identified for legal reasons, was found guilty by a jury earlier this year of the single charge which related to an incident at his home in November 2016.
The offence happened in a town outside of Limerick and the man, who worked in Limerick city, was suspended from his job shortly after a formal complaint was made.
During a hearing in May, Judge Thomas Teehan was told the defendant had been socialising with other family members at a pub in the town where he was living and that he left before 2am and walked home.
Roisín Lacey SC, prosecuting, said after the babysitter left, the defendant, entered the bedroom where his Goddaughter was sleeping and sexually assaulted her.
The victim, who was aged 10 at the time, disclosed what happened to her mother later in the night.
She later told specialist interviewers that while she was pretending to be asleep the defendant had rubbed her back before penetrating her “front bum” with his finger for several minutes.
She experienced discomfort and a stinging sensation afterwards and attended a hospital with her parents the following morning.
In a victim impact statement, her mother said the incident had a devastating impact on her daughter and her family.
“She was a very happy and fun-loving child who loved music and singing,” she said adding she became physically and emotionally distressed following the assault.
Judge Teehan was told the young girl was afraid her uncle would come to her home or school “because she told on him” and she developed regressive and compulsive-type behaviour.
The girl found it difficult to sleep for a number of months after the incident and again ahead of the trial.
“Her mood was low, she was withdrawn, she would not discuss her feelings,” said her mother adding: “She lost trust in us”.
When asked to write how she felt, the victim wrote several words on a piece of paper – very sad, scared, lonely, angry, and disappointed – which was handed to the judge.
During a sentencing hearing in Clonmel this Monday, Colman Cody SC reiterated that his client “does not accept” the verdict of the jury.
A lengthy psychiatric report was submitted to the court and Mr Cody said it showed the defendant has been diagnosed with a depressive disorder and that he has been experiencing significant mental health issues for much of his life.
He said his client’s marriage ended following the incident and that he has not had any contact with his two sons since the verdict was handed down in January.
Judge Teehan was told the man’s employer began the process to formally dismiss him in recent weeks.
Imposing sentence, the judge said the victim had been “badly damaged” as a result of what happened and he noted the impact it has had on her wider family.
“The effect of what happened was the equivalent of explosives being detonated within the family,” he said adding: “When evil deeds are done, the tentacles reach out far”.
Judge Teehan noted the man had enjoyed a successful career prior to the incident and that in many ways he was living what appeared to be an “enviable life”.
He accepted he has no previous convictions and that he faces an uncertain future when released from prison. He said he was of the view the offence was at the higher end of the middle range of seriousness.
The judge imposed a seven year prison sentence, suspending the final three years subject to the defendant complying with certain conditions when released.
Reporting restrictions were imposed preventing publication of the man’s occupation.