November 2015

Man jailed for sexual abuse of stepdaughters over decade

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A man who sexually abused his stepdaughters over a 10-year period has been jailed for six and a half years and another 18 months suspended.

Judge John Hannan said John Joe Patterson’s actions represented “the dark underbelly of Irish family life”.

His victims – Emma and Vanessa – waived their right to anonymity so that Patterson (55) could be identified.

Patterson, a former bus driver and milk man, with an address in Kilclooney, Moyne, Thurles, previously denied 39 counts of sexual assault on Emma, which began when she was nine.

A jury at Nenagh Circuit Court unanimously found him guilty on each of the counts.

His wife Francis, the mother of the two girls, held her husband’s hand throughout Monday’s sentencing hearing which lasted more than three hours. The couple have two young sons who do not see their sisters.

Emma, a mother of two, told the court she remains “terrified” of Patterson

“I always felt I had to cover up the body I had as it was dirty, ugly, not fit to be seen,” she said.

The 28-year-old became upset as she described how her mother still refuses to believe that the abuse occurred.

“She totally denied everything she heard, and said I was only attention seeking.”

The court heard that, in an attempt to evade Patterson, Emma left the family home aged 18 and took her sister Vanessa, who was 13 at the time, with her. “I went to my mother for help as a child should be able to do, but she gave me no help and ignored my plea,” Emma said.

The court heard how Patterson would pull down Emma’s pants and underwear and sexually assault her from behind.

She said Patterson would then give her €50 and tell her she was a “good girl” and she shouldn’t “tell mammy”.

The assaults continued on a daily basis for 10 years, the court heard

Patterson pleaded guilty to one of three counts of sexually abusing Vanessa, who was also nine years old when the abuse began.

Vanessa (24) told gardaí that Patterson first abused her while riding with her on a quad bike.

He later “trapped” her in a shed, and would “trust himself” against her.

“Our lives have been torn apart by our mother standing by him,” Vanessa, a mother of three, said. Patterson told gardaí his only defence for his actions was that his wife was in ill health and he was “under pressure”.

The court heard he is his wife’s sole carer and is in receipt of a carer’s allowance

At times Patterson wiped tears from his eyes as details of the abuse were read out in the court.

After the sentence was imposed, Vanessa and Emma said that they were “survivors” and no longer “victims of sexual abuse”.

Judge Hannan said Patterson had “destroyed” the sisters childhood and their relationship with their brothers, and their mother.