By Aoife Nic Ardghail
A TWO and a half years in prison sentence has been imposed on a Clare man for sexually assaulting a then eight-year-old girl in her home.
The 53-year-old man pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sexually assaulting the girl by touching her private parts on November 23, 2009. He has no previous convictions.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring said although the man had pleaded guilty, she was concerned that he had not fully accepted the implications of what he had done.
An investigating garda revealed that the little girl had been watching TV when the man came into the room and lay down beside her on the sofa.
The girl told gardaí the man had touched her chest area and private parts and asked her if she wanted to see his penis.
The girl said “no” and nothing else happened.
The garda told Tara Burns SC, prosecuting, that the girl complained to her mother after the man had left the house.
Gardaí arrested him and he admitted sexually assaulting her, but he denied asking if she wanted to see his penis or putting his hand under her clothes.
The garda agreed with Isobel Kennedy SC, defending, that her client co-operated with the investigation and had expressed remorse for his actions. He further agreed that the man revealed he didn’t know what came over him to commit the crime.
Ms Kennedy said her client had some intellectual difficulties and had been categorised as a slow learner.
She described him as a “hapless individual” who came from a decent family.
The court heard he is employed and looks after a parent who is in poor health.
Judge Ring said she was concerned by the man’s attitude towards the offence, and by comments he made suggesting that the child’s mother was interested in getting money.
“There is absolutely no evidence of any kind to suggest this,” she said.
She said the child was sexually assaulted in her own home by a person she trusted, representing a very severe breach of trust.
“The severity of the impact of sexual abuse on children cannot be overstated,” she added.
Judge Ring sentenced him to two and a half years in prison, and ordered that he undergo supervision by the probation services for two and a half years on his release.