A man has been jailed for eleven years for raping a ten-year-old girl who was so afraid of her attacker that she only told her teddy bears about the abuse.
A sitting of the Central Criminal Court in Cork heard that young girl was first raped by the partner of her much older sister after he lured her to a bedroom on the pretence of showing her puppets. He told her to keep the abuse a secret from her family.
Last June, a twelve-man jury in Cork returned a unanimous guilty verdict against the 58-year-old man for raping the girl. He was found guilty of two counts of rape and one count of sexual assault.
The trial heard that the charges related to a period between January 1995 and December 1997 when the girl was aged between ten and twelve.
Det Garda Aidan Dardis said that the man raped the child on two occasions and sexually assaulted her once.
The youngster was visiting the house of her sister when the man brought her into a bedroom to “show her puppets.” However, he then sexually assaulted and raped her.
He had told her they would do “something fun.” She said she had no idea what was going on when he removed her pants and underwear.
The girl was subsequently raped in the bathroom of another premises. She felt very physically sore, confused and upset after each incident.
Dt Garda Dardis said the man who was convicted of the offence had a “disorganised lifestyle” and “moved around” a lot. He was remanded in custody following his conviction in June.
In a victim impact statement, which was read in to evidence, the woman said that she had a “joyful” childhood until the partner of her sister raped her.
“He brought me to a room to show me some puppets he had. This is where he raped me. When the ordeal was over he told me to keep it secret. I changed as a child.
"I was no longer a happy child and joyful. My private parts had been violated. I cried a lot a night. I was too scared to tell my parents in case I would get in trouble..
“The only ones I said this to were my teddy bears. I was afraid to tell anyone. I am on guard even as an adult. I had horrific nightmares. I was really scared to tell my parents. My nightmares scared my parents as they didn’t know why I was having horrible dreams.
"I still have dreams. I had one only last week. I wake up screaming. I am nervous in close spaces.”
The woman said she held on to her secret for 24 years before she reported it to gardaí because she was “afraid of what he (the man) would do.”
She said that on occasions over the course of her adult life she stopped eating because of the abuse that had been inflicted on her.
At other times she consumed large quantities of food to in a bid to bury her feelings in relation to the abuse she had endured.
She said the abuse had a hugely detrimental impact on her life with suicidal thoughts entering her mind on several occasions.
“Imagine holding on to a secret for 24 years and the harm it caused me. That is what I did. I had suicidal thoughts.”
Prosecution senior counsel, Ray Boland, said that the case fell in the bracket of more serious offences of this type and merited a headline sentence of between ten and fifteen years.
The man still maintains his innocence. Tom Creed, SC, counsel for the defence said that his client had an “unhappy childhood” having been “bullied a lot.”
Mr Justice Michael McGrath said that the injured party was a “courageous” person who had “suffered significantly.
He noted the lack of apology or any visible sign of remorse by the man which he factored in to his decision not to suspend any portion of the eleven-year sentence. A psychiatric report had indicated that the man had “persecutory beliefs.”
By Olivia Kelleher
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