A Galway farmer sexually abused his young nephew as the child helped him with tasks around the farm, the Central Criminal Court has heard.
In his victim impact statement, the man’s nephew said the abuse by a person he trusted has had a profound effect on his life and impacted him in ways that still affect him to this day.
The 53-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect his nephew’s identity, pleaded guilty to sexual assault and oral rape of the child at a rural location in Co Galway, on dates between 1989 and 1996. He has no previous convictions.
The child was aged between five and 13 at the time of the offences.
His nephew, now 39, told his uncle that he should have been his protector, but instead had taken his childhood and life away from him. He described how he had been put through a “horrendous childhood” and had his life completely turned inside out.
“You took advantage of me, a helpless innocent child, and used my body to your own advantage fulfilling your urges” he said. “I was passenger in a horror story I could never get out of.”
He said his uncle had taken him along on jobs he loved like checking the cows and now believed he had been grooming him.
The complainant outlined how he had not understood what was going on, felt pain and confusion, wondering why this was happening to him at the hands of someone he trusted. He said his uncle had told him he would get in trouble if he told anyone what was happening, so he said nothing.
“You realised I was too afraid to say anything, from then on nowhere was safe for me.” He feared that the abuse would never stop and felt frustration and anger, leading to trouble at school.
“I want you to know what you done to me has caused me immeasurable pain and suffering,” he told his uncle. He said the accused had stolen his childhood, innocence and sense of security, leaving him with flashbacks and sleepless nights.
He added he hoped the court will recognise the severity of the offences and hold his uncle accountable.
Ms Justice Eileen Creedon adjourned sentencing until July to allow reports be finalised.
An investigating garda told Dean Kelly SC, prosecuting, that the boy lived close to the farm of his uncle and grandparents and would go there after school if his parents were working. He would also come over at weekends to be around the farm.
The abuse took place at the house, in the farmyard, outbuildings or a caravan.
The offending began with unwanted sexual touching during “games” with his uncle, the trial heard, and progressed as the child got older to masturbation and oral rape. The child felt it was wrong and was uncomfortable, but his uncle told him not to tell anyone, the court was told.
The abuse stopped when the boy went onto secondary school and was able to tell his uncle to leave him alone.
The complainant did not feel able to report the abuse while his grandparents were alive as it would cause them pain, but following their deaths he made a report to gardaí. His uncle was arrested and interviewed, during which he denied the offences. He later entered guilty pleas.
Mr Kelly said it was the Director of Public Prosecutions view that the offences fell into the “more serious” category with a headline sentence of between 10 and 15 years imprisonment.
Bernard Madden SC, defending, said the first thing to be done was to extend his client’s apology to the injured party in relation to the offending.
He said the accused was a single man who is not currently working other than on the farm. He said he had limited cognitive abilities and a lack of understanding of social situations.
Counsel said the man has been placed at moderate risk of reoffending due to risk factors including his lack of social supports, limited problem-solving abilities and admission of his attraction to young males.
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He is awaiting assessment in relation to a health issue and a medical report is outstanding.
Mr Madden said his client would need offence focused work in accepting his full role in relation to committing these offences and is willing to engage with appropriate treatments. He said he accepts full responsibility and has demonstrated some victim empathy. He asked the court for clemency.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800-77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help.
In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.