Man who put lead around child’s neck while abusing her is jailed

‘How could I ever get over what my stepfather, who I loved and trusted, did to me as a 10-year-old girl’


A man who put a dog lead around his step daughter’s neck while sexually assaulting her as a child has been jailed for two and half years.

George Crombie (47) also had a knife stuck in the waistband of his pyjama bottoms during a separate assault.

He told his stepdaughter there would be “murder in this flat” if she told her mother about the abuse, which took place over a three-year period when she was aged between 10 and 13 years old.

Last week Laura Johnston, now in her twenties, read her victim impact statement to the court in which she condemned Crombie for “betraying her trust and love in him”.

“How could I ever get over what my stepfather, who I loved and trusted, did to me as a 10-year-old girl,” Ms Johnston said. The court heard she wished to waive her right to anonymity.

Crombie of Bloomfield Ave, South Circular Road, Dublin 8 pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to eight counts of sexually assaulting Ms Johnston in their Ringsend home between February 2004 and December 2006.

On Monday Judge Melanie Greally said it was clear Crombie was satisfying a particular sexual fetish during the assaults and referred to the use of the dog lead as “extremely frightening” and “degrading”.

She said Ms Johnston had regarded Crombie as her natural father and that as such the “breach of trust was monumental” before she described the abuse as both “unrelenting” and “predictable” occurring every Thursday and Saturday.

Judge Greally said having heard the victim impact statement it was clear that Ms Johnston continued and would continue to struggle with the “premature loss of innocence” and “blight on her childhood that can never be removed”.

She acknowledged that Crombie had made admissions and spared his victim a trial before she imposed concurrent sentences totalling two and half years.

Garda Sandra Fitzgerald agreed with Dean Kelly BL, prosecuting at last week’s hearing, that Crombie had been with Ms Johnston’s mother since she was a small child and Ms Johnston had a number of younger half-siblings.

The court heard Ms Johnston thought Crombie was her real father until she was aged 10, when her mother told her he was in fact her stepfather. When told the news, Ms Johnston showed her support for Crombie by ripping up the birth cert that said he was not her real father.

“She indicated she saw (Crombie) as her real father and she had no difficulty with the news she had received,” Mr Kelly said.

However, shortly after finding out Crombie was not her father, he started acting differently towards her, the court heard. “He started questioning her about her friends and boys,” Mr Kelly said.

Crombie then started going into her bedroom when her mother and siblings were asleep and touching Ms Johnston while she was lying in bed, the court heard. The abuse happened every Thursday and Saturday night, when Crombie had been out drinking.

He entered her bedroom and touched her stomach, legs and bottom while she lay in bed. She believed he had a fetish for stomachs and bottoms, Mr Kelly said.

“(Ms Johnston) said this became as regular as clockwork,” Mr Kelly said.

The abuse stopped after the incident with the dog lead, Mr Kelly said.

Shortly afterwards, the relationship between Crombie and Ms Johnston’s mother broke down and they split up. Ms Johnston later confided in her mother, who organised counselling for her. She went to gardaí­ in 2015.

“It has affected my relationship with my sisters, who don’t wish to believe the horrific truth of what their own father did to their sister,” Ms Johnston told the court.

Crombie made full and immediate admissions to gardaí­ when he was interviewed. He has seven previous convictions for road traffic offences and larceny.

Dominic McGinn SC, defending, said Crombie was extremely remorseful for the “completely wrong, shameful and disgusting” offences he carried out on his stepdaughter.

He said Crombie had not shown any “proclivity” towards this kind of offending behaviour and had not carried out any other similar offences. He said the catalyst behind Crombie’s offending behaviour was alcohol abuse, which he had since addressed.

“He has destroyed Ms Johnston’s childhood and perhaps her life,” Mr McGinn said. “But he has since taken steps to address the root cause of that, which was his alcohol abuse.”

He added Crombie was “all alone in the world” as his family relations had completely broken down since the abuse came to light.

In Crombie’s defence, Mr McGinn said he never touched Ms Johnston’s genitals during the abuse.