Man who raped his cousin while she wore Holy Communion dress to be sentenced next week

A Galway man who raped and indecently assaulted his first cousin when he was a teenager will be sentenced next week.

The 45-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to one count of rape and six counts of indecent assault in Co Galway on dates between January 1982 and April 1987.

The court heard that a regular and sustained level of abuse went on three times a week when the victim was aged between six and 11 years old and the accused man was aged from 15 to 19.

The abuse escalated from him touching her outside her clothes to indecent assault to rape and oral rape by the time the victim was 11.

Mr Justice Paul Carney remanded the man in custody to appear before him for sentencing next Monday, January 28.

A psychologist’s report into the effects of the abuse concluded that the victim was still suffering severe and chronic post traumatic stress disorder and it was unlikely that she would ever recover fully.

The assessment said that her childhood had been destroyed by the abuse and that she had no happy experiences as a child. She began to overeat to deal with the pain and to make herself less attractive. She put on weight and this resulted in her being bullied at secondary school.

The report noted that neither of the victim's parents took any significant action when they were told about the abuse and this has resulted in her having no relationship with them.

Garda Sinead Cunniffe told Monika Leech BL, prosecuting, that the abuse began with the accused touching the victim's bottom when she would stay at her aunt's house after school.

She said that during indoor games of marbles the accused would kneel down behind the victim and indecently touch her while blocking the door to a room. The victim told gardai that she felt sick at the time and knew it wasn't right.

She told gardai: “I wanted it to stop. I was afraid. It felt disgusting. I remember thinking, are all games like this?”

In one incident at her own home in 1983 the victim was wearing her Holy Communion Dress when the man forced her to touch him and digitally raped her. She said she felt scared and sad that he had come into her house and done those things.

She told gardai that things began to escalate after that and her cousin began trying to kiss her while sexually assaulting her. She was aged nine when he began raping her on a mattress in a shed in her aunt's back garden.

She said: “I felt scared about what else he could do. I felt squashed with the weight of his body on top of me.”

He raped her in the shed at least once a week. She said she would make herself sick to avoid having to go to her aunt's house after school.

The final incident of rape took place when the victim was staying overnight at her aunt's home. The court heard that she had packed pyjamas inside of a nightie in the hope that they would better protect her.

She said that a year after this final attack she saw a programme on TV about child abuse and she reported what had happened to her to a neighbour who then told her parents.

She said she didn't tell everything to her mother. After telling her parents she began weekly counselling sessions.

Gda Cunniffe said after his arrest in 2010 the accused was charged with 21 sample counts of indecent assault and five counts of rape. She said that he expressed sincere remorse and said that he had thought about the abuse every day for the last 20 years.

He said: “When I copped on to what I did I regretted it ever since, knowing what she must be going through”.

He told gardai that when he was aged eight he had been involved in sexual activity by some of his peers.

Con Crowley BL, defending, said that a HSE investigation had found there was no current cause for concern regarding the accused. He said that his client had engaged in therapy and that a psychologist’s report put him at a low risk of reoffending.

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