A 50-year-old man has been jailed for two and a half years for sexually assaulting two of his nieces including once at a function at Páirc Uí Chaoimh GAA grounds in Cork.
Christopher McCarthy of Glendalough Park, The Lough, Cork, was convicted last July following a trial of indecently assaulting his niece, Tanya Walsh in 1984 and 1989.
McCarthy had earlier pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting another niece, Michelle O'Brien, at his home at the time at Elm Vale, Wilton, Cork, on a date between 1988 and 1990.
Today at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, Judge David Riordan said McCarthy was guilty of a serious breach of trust in relation to his two nieces as he sentenced him to five years in jail.
But he suspended the final two and half years on condition McCarthy undergoes appropriate treatment in custody and complies with Probation Service supervision upon his release.
The court had earlier heard Victim Impact Statements from McCarthy’s two victims in which they both spoke of how their relationships with their family had suffered due to his abuse.
Ms Walsh (40) was abused by McCarthy at a “This is Your Life” function for another of her uncles, Cork hurling manager, Gerald McCarthy at Páirc Uí Chaoimh when she was aged 15.
She had also been abused by him some five years earlier in 1984 when they were watching the Christmas Day movie, “Airplane” on TV at his parents home in Ballyphehane.
“I have waited 1,300 weeks, which is 25 years for acknowledgement from you but you have preferred to make me go through this whole ordeal,” said Ms Walsh.
"I knew one day I would get to tell what happened to me and I made a promise to myself that whether I was 20, 30 or 40, that when my Nan and Granddad died, that I would report you.
“Even at my own grandparents’s funeral I sat at the back of the church because when I see you, you bring me back to this scared, lost little girl,” she said, holding back the tears.
“Because of you, I have always been treated like a family outcast .... I have always been made to feel who I am doesn’t matter and just keep that family secret.
“To say that I would want to humiliate the McCarthy family is so untrue as I have never been treated as a family member and I think that you have manipulated that yourselves.
“I never wanted this but acknowledgement of what you did and that I did nothing wrong - I was not the black sheep and I should not have been treated as a big dirty family secret.
“My so called family, except for a select few, will never be part of my life .... I will never be able to make amends with my mum and this is all because of you.
“I remember the sadness I felt when I was pregnant and praying I would have a boy and not a girl - I was afraid if I had a girl I would not be able to protect them from someone like you.
“Christopher, you have shown no remorse towards me - you made my childhood and adulthood into a dark, painful place,” said Ms Walsh, her voice breaking with emotion.
“I need to try and say good-bye to the memories and with help, I hope I will - I don’t think you will ever accept responsibility for all the hurt that you have caused.
“I hope that this court case has at least made you realise that you are not in control of my life and I want you to know that my new life starts from today.”
Ms O’Brien (35), who was just nine when McCarthy abused her, told how her family had also decided to keep the matter secret after she told her mother what had happened her.
“When Christopher McCarthy abused me, my childhood was stolen from me, he took my innocence away - when it happened, I felt confused and scared,” she said.
“He was my godfather and my uncle and at the time that he did it, I don’t think that I even understood it was wrong - I trusted him - he was my uncle.
“It was only following a family phone call about Christy a couple of years later that I told my mother he had abused me and nothing was done - nobody talked to me and nobody helped me
Ms O’Brien said the abuse “was brushed under the carpet” and she embarked on a downward spiral of drinking and arguing with her mother about the decision to keep the abuse secret.
“My relationship with my mother has been seriously affected by Christopher McCarthy -to this day, this is still coming between us,” said Ms O’Brien.
She wrote to McCarthy in 2011 as she wanted him to know the hurt and pain he had caused her and because she was under family pressure not to report the abuse to the gardaí.
However McCarthy lied in his reply to her and when she saw his letter she knew that she would have to “ do the right thing” and report the matter to the gardaí.
“In his letter, Christopher apologised to me - I do not accept his apology - I do not believe he is truly sorry - his apology was only to keep me quiet.
“I do not know how Christopher has been able to live with his conscience and how he has been able to say publicly all the lies he has told about my family- I can never forgive him
Imposing the sentence today, Judge Riordan noted a psychiatric report which said McCarthy had “a callous and remote attitude” to what he had done to his two nieces.
And he noted that the report also found McCarthy posed a high risk of re-offending and recommended that he should have no unsupervised access to children.
Judge Riordan also directed that McCarthy, who lost his job upon his conviction, should have his name placed on the Sex Offenders Register for an indefinite period.