Friday, January 14, 2022

Isabel Hayes

A man who “preyed” on his little sister, sexually abusing and raping her on a regular basis when they were young, has been jailed for nine years.

The 49-year-old Dublin man, who cannot be named to protect the anonymity of his sister, pleaded guilty to 24 sample counts of sexually abusing his sister on dates between 1984 and 1991. These included counts of indecent assault, sexual assault and rape.

Almost all of the abuse occurred in the family home when their parents were not present. The girl was aged around seven or eight-years-old when the abuse started and continued until she was 14. Her brother was four years her elder.

In a victim impact statement which she read out to the court at a sentence hearing last December, the woman, now 45, said her brother “preyed” on her and was a “monster” in her own home for her entire childhood.

“He lived in my house, and he could get me whenever he wanted and no-one was coming to save me,” she said. The woman said her brother threatened that if she told anyone their family would be broken up and destroyed.

The abuse started as inappropriate touching and quickly progressed to rape up to five or six times a week. As she grew older and tried to resist him, he started using physical violence – slapping, punching, forcibly holding her down and calling her a sl*t.

The abuse ended after the victim, then aged 14, had a pregnancy scare. The next time her brother tried to rape her, she said she “went wild” and attacked him. He never touched her again and from then on, pretended nothing had happened.

Trial

The abuse came to light after the woman received counselling and went to Gardaí in 2016. The man eventually pleaded guilty on the first day of his trial date last July.

In her statement, the woman said when she eventually told her parents what had happened to her as a child, they believed her but did not offer any support. Her father was mostly worried about people finding out about the abuse, she said.

“Everything (my brother) said would happen has come true,” she said. “My family has abandoned me.”

“He stole everything from me. He broke my confidence and self-esteem. My dignity, my autonomy and self-respect were all compromised, and it has cost me profoundly in many ways.”

“It completely changed the trajectory of my life.”

Sentencing the man on Friday, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said that despite the man’s youth when the abuse started, “from a very early stage he knew what he was doing was wrong and had to be hidden from his parents”.

He noted the man resorted to threats, violence and coercion when his sister tried to stop him from abusing her and that he must have been aware of the “pain, hurt and resistance demonstrated by his sister”.

‘Humiliating and degrading’

The abuse was “grossly humiliating and degrading for her”, the judge said, adding that the man showed a “total indifference and lack of respect for her person, her dignity, her mental and physical well-being”.

The judge noted the woman suffered depression, anxiety and PTSD following the birth of her own children and was unsupported by her family when she told them what had happened to her. Her husband has been extremely supportive throughout.

She was “physically sick” at the thought of having to give evidence at trial and although her brother eventually entered a guilty plea, he only did so on his third trial date, the judge noted.

If the man had been an adult at the time of the offending, the judge said he would have imposed a sentence of between 15 years to life imprisonment. However, he said, he had to sentence the man in accordance with his age at the time of the offending, which was between 13 and 19-years-old.

The judge handed down a sentence of nine years and declined to suspend any portion of it, noting that while the man had expressed remorse, he had not made any efforts to rehabilitate himself.

Michael Bowman SC, defending, said his client has been employed for all his adult life in various jobs including as a painter/decorator and bus driver. He is in a long-term relationship and is a father, with his partner in court to support him.

In a letter to the court, the man wrote to his sister: “I do want you to know how sorry I am.” He has no previous convictions and is on medication for stress and anxiety, the court heard and is unlikely to reoffend according to a Probation Service report.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800 77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help. In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.

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