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‘Predator’ sexually abused young Clare girls over four decades

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A CLARE man who repeatedly abused young girls over a 42-year period was a “predator” and “wolf in sheep’s clothing” a court has heard.

Ennis circuit court has heard harrowing details of the abuse carried out by the 68-year-old man against four girls at locations in Clare between 1976 and 2018.

He was sent forward for trial on two books of evidence comprising 203 charges of indecent and sexual assault.

He pleaded guilty to a total of 53 sample counts concerning three girls between 1976 and 2004.

The man, who cannot be named to protect the identities of the victims, also admitted one further count of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl in the summer of 2018.

Detective Garda Conor Flaherty of the Clare garda division’s protective services unit (PSU) told the court the abuse came to light in July 2019 when a mother of one of the victims confronted the man at a family funeral.

Detective Flaherty told the court that in a statement given to gardaí in July 2019, a woman said she was five or six years old when she was first indecently assaulted by her uncle in 1976.

The abuse continued until 1981 and was carried out on a weekly and monthly basis when her parents were not at home and her uncle was babysitting.

The court heard the paedophile would take the girl from her bed, put her on his lap and run her body against his groin.

The abuse progressed and the man would put his hands inside her underwear and “vigorously” rub her vagina.

Prosecuting counsel Lorcan Connolly BL said the woman told gardaí, “I kept my eyes squeezed shut until it stopped.”

The court heard the woman would keep a doll over her private parts to protect herself and when her uncle discovered this he would become “aggressive”.

The abuse also took place in the man’s home.

The woman told gardaí that on another occasion, the man took off his clothes and forced her head towards his penis.

In her victim impact statement, read in court by Detective Flaherty, the woman said, “For over 40 years what happened in my childhood has been an open secret, rarely discussed. My recollection of the abuse I experienced at the hands of my uncle is as clear to me as if it happened yesterday.”

She continued, “I clearly recall the fear of waiting for him to get me from my bed and the hope that he might not. This has resulted in nightmares and has caused me anxiety in personal and social situations over the years.

“Not being believed at such an early age by people outside of my immediate family has had a lifelong effect upon me. I could not and still cannot understand how people took the word of him over a small child.

“This impacted me in my teens and twenties. I spent lengthy periods of time alone, experiencing feelings of guilt and humiliation and the only time I really interacted with others was at work.

“What happened to me has had a serious impact on my immediate family. It was made known to my parents that the negative impact of anything that happened being talked about would kill my grandparents. This kept the secret safe for a long time.

“My parents have both experienced psychological trauma as a result and I know that they look at me and feel responsible for what happened and that they imagine the suffering of their small daughter in their own home that is a heavy burden for them to carry.”

“Over time our family have felt ostracised from the wider family as we would not socialise where my uncle was,” she added.

A second woman told gardaí she was between the ages of six and eleven when she was repeatedly abused by her uncle-in-law at his home.

The assaults took place when she visited her cousins between 1991 and 1996.

The woman told gardaí the man would play a “game” by throwing a tennis ball under a couch

When the girl bent down to get the ball, the man would put his fingers in her vagina and perform oral sex.

Mr Connolly said the woman “remembered her uncle-in-law as being like a predator anytime he entered the house”.

In her victim impact statement, the woman said she wished she could talk to herself as a little girl “and hold her tight and tell her that she didn’t deserve what happened to her”.

“That a wolf in sheep’s clothing married to her aunt would be looking for the right opportunity to pounce. My parents are good hardworking people, they trusted their family to support them in their time of need.

“My mother was in hospital, and I would spend a lot of time with my aunt, uncle and cousins. Instead of helping to nurture that six-year-old me, he instead used me for his own disgusting sexual perversions.

“Not only did he sexually abuse me from the ages of 6-10, but he also emotionally tortured me with whispers of ‘nobody will believe you’, ‘if you tell anyone you’ll never see your family again’, ‘you’ll be left all alone’, ‘You know I love you’.”

She said what she endured was an egregious abuse of trust and decency.

She said, “He pleads guilty to this court only and has shown not an ounce of remorse for the pain he has inflicted on me.

“In fact, I am the one who has been shunned by family for what he has done. He is a danger to children and always will be. He is only sorry that I had the courage to speak out about the disgusting things he has done.

“We are from a small town, and I often see him which is incredibly traumatic. The last time I saw him he was walking a little girl in a stroller.”

The court also heard details of the abuse perpetrated by the man against a girl his wife was childminder for.

She was six or seven when the abuse started at the man’s home between 2002 and 2004.

The court heard that when the man was on his lunch break he would put his hands on the girl’s vagina and force her to rub his penis.

She recalled him pinning her to the ground and “dry humping” her.

She told gardaí she looked out the window hoping someone would see or that the man’s wife would come into the room.

In her victim impact statement the woman said, “He used common ways abusers normalise their heinous acts. For me they were disguised in a form of ‘game’ for us to play while I was in, to my understanding at the time, a safe place – the house of my childminder whose sole focus was to look out for my welfare.

“These ‘games’ were an act of distraction. For example a common method used was to get the nearest newspaper and some pens to draw on faces of people in the newspaper. While doing what I was instructed to do, he would use this time to mount me or touch me inappropriately all within the space of around a 20-30 minute timeframe he had with me in the room.”

She said, “The thought that my first sexual experience being with a grown man in a house of someone whose job was to mind and protect me will leave a life-long impact on me.

“This is something that will never go away. It is hurt and trauma that takes continuous work to try and heal.”

Mr Connolly told the court that in February 2021, a woman told gardaí her 10-year-old daughter had been sexually assaulted by her cousin’s grandfather.

The incident took place when the girl stayed with her cousins on a date between July and August 2018.

In a victim impact statement, the girl’s mother said, “A mother is meant to protect her child or children at all cost from monsters like him and he has made me feel like I failed my daughter.
He has taken the pure innocence of a child and made her into a closed book. She will not speak to anyone professionally or to me about the incident. I don’t know how to help her.

“He has destroyed my daughter’s childhood and life in prison is not enough for him and what he has done. He has made me such an angry person inside.

“That will leave a scar for life on my daughter that she has to live with, it’s beyond wrong in my eyes,” she said.

Detective Flaherty told the court the man made certain admissions to gardaí but denied other allegations when they were put to him.

The court heard the man told gardaí the “devil made him do it”.

“I don’t know why I did it. It is the divil inside me”, he said.

Detective Flaherty said the man told gardaí “he was attracted to nine-year-old and 10-year-old girls”.

The court heard the man also disclosed to gardaí that he had been sexually abused when he was younger and the perpetrator is no longer alive.

Defence barrister, Mark Nicholas SC said his client’s children have “abandoned” him.

Counsel said his client was surrendering his bail and will go into custody.

Judge Francis Comerford said that if the man had not surrendered bail he would have remanded him in custody.

Judge Comerford adjourned the case to December 12.

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