Woman who sexually abused her brother jailed for six months

Man who was nine when abuse started reported incidents in 2015 after sister sought access to his son

A 47-year-old woman broke down in court after a judge sentenced her to six months in jail for the sexual abuse of her brother whom she began abusing when he was just nine years old and she was 21.

The woman had denied 10 counts of sexually abusing her brother on various dates between 1993 and 1995 but a jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court last month found her guilty of four counts including three sexual assaults at the family home in Cork and one while staying in a hotel in Dublin.

Judge Brian O’Callaghan said that what had struck him most forcibly following conviction were the complete lack of remorse for and insight into the harm the woman had caused her younger brother and only sibling after such a terrible breach of trust.

The investigating detective outlined the circumstances of the abuse which, in two instances, consisted of the woman coming into the boy’s bedroom and getting in his bed and then taking his hand and getting him to massage her breast.


On another occasion, she directed the boy, then aged 11, into her bed where she again took his hand and forced him to touch her vagina with the abuse ending when he ejaculated and went to the bathroom.

When the boy was aged 12, he ended up sharing a room with his sister away from his parents in another room during a family break in Dublin. She again got into bed beside him and manipulated his hand into touching her breast while she masturbated.

The complainant had cut all ties with his family and moved abroad but when his sister and his parents learned that he had become a father, they made an application through the courts for access to the man’s infant son, their nephew and grandson.

In the course of the access case, the man learned that his sister was on the board of management of a local school and concerned that she might have access to children, he reported the abuse to gardaí in 2015 and they began an investigation.

The man said in his victim impact statement how his life had been changed irrevocably by the abuse, leading to him to attempt suicide when he was just 12 as a means of escape and to a complete lack of trust in others that took him years to overcome.

He told how every morning, he used to put on “a mental and emotional suit of armour” to face the day and pretend that he was leading a normal life when the abuse continued to haunt him particularly by night when he suffered nightmares right through his teenage years and beyond.

Defence barrister, Donal O’Sullivan acknowledged that his client had fully contested the case but he pleaded for leniency on a number of grounds including the fact that the woman had a number of serious medical conditions including Type 1 Diabetes and the fact that she cared for her elderly parents.

The judge noted the defence submissions and he said that the woman had no previous convictions and had never come to the attention of the gardaí before or since this incident and in all other respects she was a completely law abiding person and unlikely to reoffend.

However, the judge said he had come to court hoping that there would be some expression of remorse from the woman for everyone’s sake in the case but it was clear that she had no insight or appreciation of the harm she had caused.

He noted that in the course of contesting the case, she had wrongly accused her brother of fabricating the allegations of sex abuse in order to prevent her gaining access to her nephew when it was clear that the man’s sole motivation was to protect his own young son.


There was an element of premeditation in that the assaults happened when their parents were away and she was guilty of a huge breach of trust not just as her brother’s older sister but also in respect of her parents who had entrusted her to mind him only for her to use him for her own sexual gratification.

He recognised that the conviction would mean an end to her career while a custodial sentence would also have an impact on her elderly parents but he felt that such was the breach of trust, the seriousness of the harm and the lack of remorse, he felt he had to impose a custodial sentence.

He imposed an 18 months sentence for the first two sexual assaults but suspended them in their entirety. The later two assaults were of a more serious nature and he imposed a six-month jail term while he also ordered the woman’s name to be placed on the sex offenders register for seven years.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times