by Andrew Carey
A FATHER who repeatedly sexually abused his daughter from the age of eight avoided a jail term after a Circuit Court judge suspended a two-year prison sentence stating that the man had “lost everything” since news of his offending emerged.
The girl, who is now 15, was sexually abused from a young age and had described how she spent her childhood living in constant fear of her father.
During the sentencing hearing earlier this week at Limerick Circuit Court, the 51-year-old man admitted three counts of sexual assault on the girl beginning when she was eight years old.
The court was told of how the girl was just 13 when the man put his hand inside her underwear and touched her vagina. On another occasion, when she was eight or nine years old, he grabbed her wrist and tried to place her hand on his penis. Evidence was given of another incident where he took the child’s panties off and hid them under a pillow during a game of hide and seek.
Two of the sexual assaults took place at an address in Co Limerick on dates between October 2006 and October 2009. The third offence occurred at the same location on April 20, 2012.
In her victim impact statement, the girl described living in constant fear and being unable to concentrate at school.
She recalled how “from a very young age the question I always asked myself was, is this right? Is this what happens when you’re a child?”
“This is something that no child should have to endure at any age.”
Fear was commonplace and she always was afraid to tell anyone about the abuse but, looking back, she doesn’t know how she lasted so long without saying anything.
Matters came to light when the girl confided in her mother who made a complaint to Gardaí. During a period of counselling, the girl made a note of other incidents that occurred.
Defence counsel Andrew Sexton SC said the man had no previous convictions and had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.
Earlier this week, Judge Carroll Moran sentenced the man to two years in prison, but ordered that the sentence be suspended for a period of five years. His name was also added to the Sex Offenders register for five years.
Addressing the matter of publishing the man’s name, Judge Moran asked about the prosecution’s attitude to an application made by the victim’s mother not to have his name published.
Prosecution Counsel Michael Collins said that he had been heavily canvassed to see that the reporting restrictions remained in place.
On hearing the applications, Judge Moran reconfirmed media restrictions on naming the man but added that he was not happy that a man was convicted and sentenced anonymously.