A man in his 60s has been sentenced to two years in prison for the sexual assault of his niece in the 1990s.
Anita Byrne waived her right to anonymity in order to name her uncle Paul Farrell (65) of Breffni Gardens, Baldoyle, Dublin 13.
Farrell was found guilty in June 2022 of one count of sexual assault and 10 sample counts of sexual assault dating back from 1992 to 1993.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the first offence took place on the day of Ms Byrne’s grandfather’s funeral removal.
Farrell asked Ms Byrne to get something from the cupboard. He then proceeded to place his hands under her clothes and underwear, and was about to touch her genital area when she turned around and left the room.
Ms Byrne went to the bathroom, and when she came out, Farrell was waiting for her and told her not to say anything.
The court heard that Farrell was also found guilty of 10 sample accounts of sexual assault on Ms Byrne, which occurred in the accused’s home when she was between 12 and 13 years of age.
As a result of the assaults, Ms Byrne stopped visiting her grandmother’s home and was unable to see her grandmother before she died.
Judge Patricia Ryan said the maximum sentence available to the court was five years in prison.
Breach of trust
She noted that the first offence occurred on a sad occasion when the victim’s grandfather died. She said it was a breach of trust and noted the large age disparity between the accused and the victim.
Judge Ryan said Farrell told Ms Byrne not to tell anyone about what had happened, which would be considered an aggravating factor. Farrell has no previous convictions and had not come to the attention of the gardaí before.
He has a medical condition all of which would be considered mitigating factors.
Judge Ryan sentenced Farrell to two years in prison for the single sexual assault count and 18 months in prison for each of the 10 sample counts of sexual assault, which will run concurrently with each other and with count one.
Speaking outside Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Anita Byrne said “I am pleased that I got justice today. Paul Farrell took away my innocence thirty years ago when I was a 12-year-old child.
“The trial brought back so many bad memories and although justice has been served, I will never be able to forgive him for what he did and what he put me through. Paul’s actions have broken the Farrell family beyond repair.
“However today is a new beginning for me, my husband and our children. I am no longer going to allow his actions to take over my life. Thank you to everyone who has supported me through this difficult journey.”
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800 77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help.