DPP’s decision to drop final charges marks end of sexual abuse trials

Mr Justice Paul McDermott

A SECOND Munster sexual abuse trial involving another child will not go ahead after the charges against her eight relatives were dropped by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The sexual abuse case against the now 12-year-old girl’s mother, stepfather, step-grandmother, step-grandfather, two aunt and two uncles were dropped in the Central Criminal Court yesterday.

A trial date was due to be set, but instead Bernard Condon SC, prosecuting, told the court: “This is the end of it”.

A total of eleven adults were originally charged in the abuse case. There were 299 counts on the original indictment, which then involved two families of children.

The cases were separated last year and seven adults originally stood trial charged with the sexual abuse and neglect of five siblings from one family.

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Five of these adults were found guilty of all but one of the 78 counts against them following a ten-week trial. None of the adults involved can be named to protect the identity of the children.

In January, the five children’s father and mother were jailed for 15 and nine years respectively for what Mr Justice Paul McDermott described as the “most awful” sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of their three eldest children, and the wilful neglect of all of them.

Two uncles, aged 49 and 27, were jailed for 15 years for their part in the sexual abuse, while a maternal aunt (35) was jailed for three years for sexually assaulting two of the children.

The Courts Service has confirmed that the DPP has lodged an appeal against the undue leniency of the sentence of the father, mother and the 49-year-old uncle.

The case against two other women – the children’s grandmother (58) and step-aunt – was dropped during the trial after the children involved said they couldn’t remember their role in the abuse.

These two women are the 33-year-old mother and step-grandmother of the girl in the second trial. They were due to stand trial again, along with all of the five convicted and a 79-year-old step-grandfather.

This trial was due to centre on allegations of sexual abuse and neglect of the girl – a step-cousin to the five siblings in the first trial.

The abuse of this girl was alleged to have occurred in Munster on dates between June 2014 and August 2017.

Two charges on the original indictment pertaining to her two younger siblings were also dropped yesterday.

The girl’s mother was accused of multiple counts of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and neglect of her daughter.

The girl’s stepfather, step-grandparents, two aunts and two uncles were charged with multiple counts including sexual assault and sexual exploitation. They had denied the charges against them.

Last month, further charges pertaining to the children in the first trial were also dropped by the DPP. The grandfather and another uncle (33) his former partner (37) and a 38-year-old woman were before the courts on a range of sexual abuse charges involving the three eldest children. The four pleaded not guilty to sample charges before the court last year.

Sentencing the five family members, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said the parents had engaged in “the most profound breach of trust a human being can commit against their children”.

He said the children were left isolated and under the total control of their adult relatives, who left them with no one to turn to and who engaged in the most “appalling” and “prolonged” sexual abuse of the three eldest children.