Limerick woman sexually assaulted by uncle as she was sleeping

David Hurley

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David Hurley

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david.hurley@limerickleader.ie

Limerick woman sexually assaulted by uncle as she was sleeping

Limerick court heard the farmer was remanded in custody following a guilty plea

A WOMAN who was sexually assaulted by her uncle while she was sleeping in his daughter’s bedroom says not knowing what happened to her haunts her every day.

The 25-year-old made her comments during a sentencing hearing at Limerick Circuit Court on Tuesday following which the 60-year-old farmer was remanded in custody.

He has pleaded guilty to a single charge relating to an offence which occurred at his home in a rural village in West Limerick in the early hours of February 27, 2017.

Detective Garda Jerry O’Sullivan said the victim, who was pregnant at the time, had been visiting the house the evening before and had decided to stay overnight.

She went to bed at around 12.45am and shared a bed with a younger cousin who was already asleep.

The detective told Lily Buckley BL, instructed by state solicitor Aidan Judge, when the woman woke sometime during the night she realised she had moved position in the bed and that her leggings and knickers had been “pulled down mid-thigh”.

There were fluids on her clothing and she told gardai she could hear heavy breathing in the room and that she believed this was her uncle as he was the only male in the house.

After leaving the house the following morning, the woman confided in a relative and outlined her suspicions. She subsequently made a complaint to gardai that she believed she had been sexually assaulted.

The clothes she was wearing were examined and semen matching the DNA of the accused was found on her knickers, leggings and socks.

Judge Martina Baxter was told that following his arrest a number of months later, the defendant denied sexually assaulting the woman and “adopted a no comment position” throughout a number of interviews.

However, he pleaded guilty when the case came before Limerick Circuit Court last July.

In a victim impact statement, the woman said she blames herself for what happened and that she is embarrassed to talk about what happened as she believes people will look at her differently.

“I blame myself so much, mentally I beat myself up,” she stated adding that she still suffers from panic attacks and has flashbacks.

Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, said his client accepts what happened was nonconsensual and that it should not have happened.

“There was a wrong done and it was done by him,” he said.

A number of reports and testimonials were submitted to the court and Mr O’Higgins said €10,000 was being “put before the court” by his client.

He asked the judge to note how his client has lost his standing in his local community and will “carry the stigma of what he did for the rest of his natural life”.

Judge Baxter said she was of the view that what happened was a “grave assault and a gross breach of trust”.

She adjourned the matter to February 5 requesting that a probation report be prepared in the meantime.