‘You are to blame’: Woman felt at fault after being sexually assaulted by cousin as a child

Defendant (28) convicted of 10 counts and jailed for 5½ years by judge after a ‘sad and difficult case’

A Dublin man who sexually assaulted his younger cousin over a four-year period has been jailed for 5½ years.

The 28-year-old was convicted of 10 counts of sexual assault following a trial at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in March. He cannot be named to protect his victim’s anonymity. The man maintains his innocence and does not accept the jury’s verdict, the court was told.

The offences occurred between 2008 and 2011, when the victim was aged between six and 10, while the accused was then aged between 13 and 17.

Judge Sarah Berkeley on Thursday said this was a “sad and difficult case” for all concerned as it involved family members. She said the aggravating features of the case include the victim’s age and the duration of the offending.


Setting a headline sentence of eight years, the judge noted mitigation including that the man was a teenager at the time, his lack of previous convictions and that he has not come to recent garda attention. She imposed a sentence of 5½ years backdated to when he entered custody.

A garda told Tessa White BL, prosecuting, that the first incident occurred in May 2008 during a family holiday in Connacht.

The sexual assaults primarily occurred in the home of the victim’s grandmother, where the boy was living at the time. The offending included inappropriate touching, masturbation and digital penetration. In some incidents, the sexual assaults took place in the boy’s bedroom while pornography was playing. The court heard the abuse occurred frequently and came to an end in 2011.

When the girl was 17, a sibling entered her bedroom and found notes she had made which said the man had “molested” her while on holiday. He showed these notes to their mother, who later confronted the accused. He denied the allegations.

A complaint was made to gardaí and the accused was co-operative, answering questions during interview. He was deemed unsuitable for juvenile diversion programme.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, the woman said she felt at fault and blamed herself, but now understands this is not hers to carry. Addressing the man, she said: “you are to blame.”

She said she felt “dirty” and “unclean” as a child and these feelings did not go away. The victim said her relationship with her mother was affected as she could not understand why she was angry.

She said all aspects of her life had been affected and “blighted” by what happened and she was retraumatised by the trial process. “I’ll never forgive you,” she said, adding that she hoped to begin a “new life” with the support of her family and friends.

The garda agreed with Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, defending, that his client has not come to recent garda attention and no allegations have been made about his behaviour towards other children when he was living at his grandmother’s house.

A number of references were handed into the court on the man’s behalf, including from his partner who said he has taken on a fatherly role towards her young child. One testimonial was provided by a friend who provided him with accommodation after he left his grandmother’s home once the allegations came to light.

Judge Berkeley noted the victim’s strength and intelligence, adding that her “distress” was “palpable” during the trial, and particularly when faced with 11 male jurors. She wished the woman the best for the future.