A COUNTY Limerick man who admitted sexually abusing his young daughter over a six year period avoided a prison sentence.
The 51-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to three charges of sexually assaulting the girl on dates between 2006 and 2012.
Limerick Circuit Court was told the victim was aged eight when the abuse first started and that all of the offences happened at a rural village in County Limerick.
In her victim impact statement, which was delivered last month, the now 15-year-old girl said she had lived “in constant fear” of her father and had been unable to concentrate on schoolwork.
“I was afraid of falling behind and that gave me even more stress,” she said.
She described her anxiety that other girls in her community might know what had happened to her.
Garda Sinead Galvin, told Michael Collins BL, prosecuting, that the abuse had come to light after an incident in April 2012 when the accused had put his hand inside the girl’s underwear.
She had confided in a relative and prior incidents of abuse had then also come to light.
A formal complaint was made to gardai in July 2012 and the girl attended an interview with gardai with specialist training in September of that year.
Andrew Sexton SC, said his client had no previous convictions, had voluntarily gone to the garda station to be interviewed and had admitted to the offences at the earliest opportunity.
The accused, he said, was “deeply apologetic” and he submitted that the offences were “not at the grossest end” of the spectrum.
Mr Sexton said the defendant had “a good job” which he lost since the allegations came to light.
Imposing sentence on Monday, Judge Carroll Moran said there had been a “serious abuse of trust” and he said the defendant’s actions had had a “serious effect on a young girl who should have been protected”.
The judge added the offences had happened in the recent past when everybody was aware of society’s views relating to child abuse.
Noting that there is a “low risk” of the accused man re-offending and that he is attending counselling, the judge imposed a two year prison sentence, which he suspended for five years.
The name of the defendant was placed on the register of sexual offenders for five years.