Charges against family members over Munster child abuse dropped

Children’s father, mother, aunt and two uncles jailed last month for up to 15 years

Charges against extended family members accused of sexually abusing three children in Munster have been dropped by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The children’s 79-year-old grandfather, a 33-year-old uncle, his former partner (37) and a 38-year-old woman were before the courts on a range of sexual abuse charges.

Last month, the children’s father and mother were jailed for 15 and nine years respectively for what the judge described as the “most awful” sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of their three eldest children, and the wilful neglect of their five children.

Two uncles, aged 49 and 27, were jailed for 15 years for their part in the sexual abuse, while a maternal aunt (35) was jailed for three years for sexually assaulting two of the children.

The case against two other women — the children’s grandmother and one of their uncle’s partners — was dropped during the trial last year after the children involved said they couldn’t remember their role in the abuse.

Sentencing the five family members last month, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said the parents had engaged in “the most profound breach of trust a human being can commit against their children”.

He said the children were left isolated and under the total control of their adult relatives, who left them with no one to turn to and who engaged in the most “appalling” and “prolonged” sexual abuse of the three eldest children.

In the Central Criminal Court on Tueday, Eilis Brennan SC, prosecuting, said the charges against other family members were being dropped.

The children’s grandfather was accused of three counts of sexually assaulting his granddaughter and one count of sexually exploiting her between August 2014 and April 2016. He was also accused of failing to tell gardaí ­ that his grandchildren were being neglected by their parents.

The children’s 33-year-old uncle was accused of two counts of sexually assaulting his niece during the same period.

His former partner — a 37-year-old woman — was accused of four counts of sexually assaulting the same girl and two counts of sexually exploiting her.

She was also charged with two counts of failing to tell gardaí­ about the sexual exploitation of one of the children in the family and child cruelty that was carried out by the father.

A 38-year-old woman was charged with two counts of sexually assaulting the two boys and one count of failing to tell gardaí­ that the children were being neglected.

The four previously pleaded not guilty to sample charges before the court.