A 84-year-old man who admits sexually assaulting his young granddaughter has been jailed for 21 months.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the victim was aged between seven and eight years when her grandfather molested her a number of times in the summer of 2014.
The attacks took place in the grandfather’s home, in a shed and in his car when his wife, the child’s grandmother, was out at a supermarket.
After hearing evidence on Wednesday, Judge Martin Nolan said it was a “pretty sad case” of grossly reprehensible behaviour. He said that while he had jailed grandfathers before, he wanted to consider overnight how long a sentence he would give the accused.
He adjourned the case to Thursday when he imprisoned the man for 21 months.
“It was repeated misbehaviour. Just because he is an old man doesn’t mean he shouldn’t go to jail,” Judge Nolan said.
The Dublin man cannot be named to protect the anonymity that the complainant, now aged 16, is entitled to under law, including the Children Act.
Judge Nolan described the victim as a person of courage, saying “it was no easy thing” for her to go to the gardaí and then come into court.
The court heard that the girl’s family became suspicious of the grandfather. When the girl’s father confronted him, the defendant admitted his guilt. He made a voluntary statement under caution in 2018 and did not deny the girl’s accusations.
He said “if she said it happened, then it happened,” Detective Garda Gillian Ryan told the court. In December 2021, he pleaded guilty in January 2022 to one count of sexually assaulting a minor, at an unknown location in Co Dublin, between July 1st and August 31st 2014.
In a victim impact statement, the girl, now aged 16, said: “This is something I won’t forget and it still affects me. All I want is some justice.”
She said “this whole thing has affected me so much and will stay with me forever,” and it had affected her whole family. She said she was so young at the time she did not understand that what her grandfather was doing was wrong.
Dt Gda Ryan told the court that the attacks took place “every time she was on her own with her grandfather”.
Defence counsel Fiona Murphy, SC, said her client accepted responsibility for his actions and was “deeply ashamed”. He was now isolated from his family and, while sharing a home with his wife, he was “isolated in a box room as a result of his own actions”.
Judge Nolan said the grandfather had abused the trust of his grandchild and family. The cumulative effect of the assaults was “quite serious”. The victim had a mistrust of adults and her relationship with grandmother had also been affected.
In mitigation, he noted the man’s guilty plea, his co-operation with gardaí, the fact that he was not likely to re-offend, and his age.