July 2003

Father of two ‘interfered’ with young girl while on fishing trips Castletown man jailed for sexual assault of his niece

A father of two who pleaded guilty to four counts of sexually assaulting his niece while on fishing trips has been jailed for three years.

John Power, with an address of Killowen Lower, Castletown, pleaded guilty to the offences which Wexford Circuit Court was told yesterday by Prosecuting Counsel, Ms. Rosario Boyle, B.L., occurred at The Cliffs, Castletown, between June and July of 1993-94. There were also three further charges of sexual assault at Arklow Pier between July and August, 1993.

Fishing trips

Garda Josephine Dowling told the court the assaults took place when the defendant brought the injured party and her brother on fishing trips. The defendant would lie down beside her and ‘interfere’ with her.

As he was sitting between the the victim and her brother, the victim would start cuddling up to him and try to kiss him. This led to further physical contact taking place.

Garda Dowling added the defendant said that he feels guilty for the part he played in what happened and apologised to her and her parents.

The witness also told the court that the defendant, in a statement, said he began to see the girl regularly while he was building a house for her parents and staying in a mobile home, adding, that he took pity on the injured party and her brother as their father was aggressive towards them.

She said the injured party was aged between 12 and 14 years when the offences occurred.

Garda Dowling said that the defendant is now a married man with two children, with a third child expected in the Autumn, and is a manager-owner of a building business.

The injured party, Rachel Christie, said she wished to wave the right to anonymity, so that the defendant could be publicly named.

She described to the court how her childhood ‘was taken from her’ and as a result has been unable to form a trustful and loving relationship.

‘I am emotionally dead, but I’ve been unable to express this to my parents. While he pleaded guilty he has never said sorry to me,’ she said.

Ms. Christie told of having served on a Jury in a sexual abuse case which brought memories of her own abuse flooding back to her, adding, that she had been unable to proceed with her third level education.

‘The abuse destroyed me and I have suffered, but so has my father who has lost his family,’ she said.

Ms. Mary Ellen Ring, S.C., for the defendant, said that in the 36 years of his life this was the only matter ever to come to the attention of the gardai or the courts but it had driven a wedge in the larger family unit.

The defendant, she said, had taken steps to come to some understanding as to his behaviour and had sought professional help. His wife has assisted him and attended counselling with him in an effort to come to some understanding as to his behaviour.

Sex Offenders Register

She said that as a result of his plea he would be entered on the Sex Offenders Register.

Judge Olive Buttimer said she would take into account his plea of guilty, the fact he had no previous offences, and his previous good character.

She told the defendant that he was an adult dealing with a child and was guilty of a breach of trust.

Sentencing the defendant to three years in prison, with the final two years suspended, she said the message must be sent out that children must be protected by the courts.