A man who sexually abused a young girl for seven years in a “massive breach of trust” has been jailed for nine and a half years.
Richard Morrissey (45) was found guilty by a jury of six counts of sexual assaulting the girl following a Central Criminal Court trial last year.
The jury was unable to agree on a number of counts and Morrissey stood trial again earlier this year. He was found guilty of one further count of sexual assault and one count of oral rape.
All of the abuse occurred at various locations in Louth between January 1996 and March 2003 when the girl was aged between seven and 14 years old. Morrissey of College Manor, Dundalk, Co Louth, was aged between 18 and 25 at the time of the offending.
Morrissey maintains his innocence and does not accept the verdicts of the jury, his sentence hearing was told this week. He has been in custody since the conclusion of the first trial in November last year.
The court heard the woman wanted Morrissey to be named but wished to retain her own anonymity.
Sentencing him on Friday, Ms Justice Karen O’Connor said the man was an adult when he engaged in a “massive breach of trust” when he sexually abused the girl
“The victim was introduced to adult sexual behaviour at a young age,” Ms Justice Karen O’Connor said, noting that the woman told the court she was groomed by Morrissey.
“This had an adverse impact on her young life,” the judge said. She handed down a 10-and-a-half year sentence and suspended the final year on a number of conditions.
In her victim impact statement read out by counsel in court the woman said she is still living with the aftermath of the abuse inflicted on her by Morrissey. She said although she believes she had a happy childhood, the only memories she has of growing up involve him abusing her.
She said she always wanted a child of her own, but fears she will never have a proper relationship as she is uncomfortable in the presence of men.
The woman said the trial process, which took six years from when she first went to gardaí and involved two trials, was very difficult as she had to relive all of the abuse. She said she still bottles up her emotions and doesn’t talk about her feelings.
“I feel if this had not happened to me from such a young age, I could have grown up so differently,” she said.
Ms Justice O’Connor paid tribute to the woman for her “eloquent” statement and commended her for her courage in coming forward, noting that this would have helped other victims of abuse.
Detective Garda David Leydon told Paul Carroll SC, prosecuting, that the abuse came to light in 2016 when the woman went to gardaí.
The court heard that Morrissey and the girl regularly came into contact at local gatherings.
The abuse started with the man touching her between her legs and kissing her and culminated in him touching her vagina and forcing her to give him oral sex when she was 14.
He repeatedly told her not to tell anyone, saying it would cause trouble, and she would be blamed for it. The abuse ended when the girl was old enough to stop being brought to occasions where the man was present.
Morrissey has one previous conviction for assault.
He has children with his current partner, who was in court to support him. Roisin Lacey SC, defending, said her client has an excellent work history, but a workplace accident had caused issues for him and led to him turning to alcohol to cope.
She said he is a good father and very committed to his children.
He has led a prosocial life apart from this offending, the court heard. The court heard Morrissey’s reluctance to accept the verdicts puts him at a medium risk of reoffending.
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.