A Galway man has been sentenced to seven and half years in prison for the weekly rape of his foster sister more than 10 years ago.
The 29-year-old man, who was convicted following a trial at the Central Criminal Court, was also jailed for the rape of two other young girls who were also fostered by his parents. The three girls were aged between six and ten years old at the time, while the accused was aged between 14 and 18.
The court heard he raped two of the girls at the same time in a hut by the family home.
The first victim, who had been fostered by the family from the age of six months, told the jury that the accused would ask her “to do that thing for me” before he raped her. She outlined incidences of rape in a field and on a tractor but said the rapes mostly occurred in this hut.
She recalled on one occasion being made to hold up a pornography magazine.
The second girl was 11-years of age when she told gardaí in 2007 that both she and the first victim had been raped at the same time two years previously. However, the case was never prosecuted because the first victim denied it ever happened.
The second girl outlined in her victim impact statement that she started drinking at 11 years of age. She said while waiting for others to come forward she almost believed it was in her head. She got into trouble in school and was ultimately placed in care.
‘He took my childhood away’
“He took my childhood away,” she said, before she added that she only started attending counselling three months ago.
The first girl reported the incidences of rape to a teacher, in 2011, four years after the first complaint was made. The accused was arrested but claimed it was all lies.
It was only when the third girl was being interviewed as a witness for the investigation that she disclosed that she had also been raped.
She told gardaí that she was eight years of age and being minded by the accused when he raped her in his parents’ room.
She stated in her victim impact statement that she bottled it up until she disclosed the abuse to her father. She said she felt disgusted, embarrassed and very emotional. She couldn’t open up in counselling but was starting to feel now that she could move on with her life.
The first woman said the abuse had a devastating and intensely far-reaching impact on every part of her life.
“I called them my family, my mother, my father and my brothers,” she continued. “I lost my education, my goals and my dreams.”
‘Overdosed to ease the pain and suffering’
The woman outlined how she could not sleep at night and could not even accomplish the most basic tasks before describing suffering from severe anxiety, depression and self harm. She said she had overdosed “to ease the emptiness and pain I was feeling”.
She started counselling at 14 years old, which she continues today, but said she was not in a position to take up employment and was dependent on her family. She said she couldn’t form a relation with any man and “sex is not a normal thing”.
“He robbed me of my confidence and self esteem. My faith in myself and the world has been destroyed and will never be the same,” she concluded.
The man had pleaded not guilty to a number of charges relating to the rape and sexual abuse of the three victims.
He was convicted in July last year, following a nine-day trial, of 19 charges of rape and one each of sexual assault and buggery against the first girl on dates between October 2003 and May 2007.
He was also found guilty on one charge of raping each of the other two girls over the same time period.
Mr Justice Michael Moriarty sentenced the man to seven and half years for the rape charges and concurrent terms of six and half and five years for the remaining charges. He suspended the final year on strict conditions.
A local garda told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that the man was arrested at an address in Galway in October 2013. He was interviewed twice but denied any wrongdoing. He claimed he had treated the first victim like a sister and insisted the allegations were “all lies”. He has no previous convictions.
Bernard Madden SC, defending, told Mr Justice Moriarty that his client now accepted the verdict but asked the judge to take into account that he had not come to any further Garda attention in the last 10 years.
Accepting his guilt
Counsel added that his client, a married man, had expressed a willingness to engage with a sex offenders treatment programme in prison.
“He is now accepting his guilt and acknowledging the impact on his victims, which means that he can now engage in rehabilitation,” Mr Madden said, before handing in a large number of testimonials including letters from the man’s parents and wife.
Mr Justice Moriarty said that instead of the “idyllic experience of being in the West of Ireland” with a foster family, “what unhappily transpired was a succession of serious sexual offences against the three girls”.
Mr Justice Moriarty described the first woman’s victim impact statement as articulate and well-composed, in which he said she outlined a particularly distressing set of events. He noted that she had found it “extremely difficult” to put the rape behind her.
Mr Justice Moriarty said it would have made matters easier had the man entered a guilty plea but instead the three woman had to “run the gamut of examination and cross-examination” in a “wholly contested trial”.
“Their veracity was put at issue,” he continued, but he accepted that the man now unconditionally accepted that these “grave offences were committed by him”.
Mr Justice Moriarty accepted that man was “a tender age” at the time of the rapes but said he was a great deal older and more experienced than the victims.
He further accepted evidence that the man suffered a serious brain injury as young child but noted that at the time of the offending behaviour he was driving and receiving relatively good school reports.
“He must have had some appraisal of what was right and wrong at the time,” Mr Justice Moriarty concluded.
The first victim recalled one incident when she was around nine years of age, when the man brought her up to a field in a tractor and asked her for sex. She said she did not want to because she was concerned people might see them. He tried to encourage her, promising to allow her “to drive the tractor around 20 times”.
She still refused and he drove off in anger causing her to bang her head. She said she then submitted and recalled him raping her.
The garda confirmed that the girl said she was raped nearly every week.