Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Eimear Dodd and Declan Brennan

A convicted child abuser maintains he has no memory of carrying out a litany of sexual assaults against three young children when he himself was a teenager, a court has heard.

Patrick Murphy (36) of Kilcogan, Co Galway was found guilty following a Central Criminal Court trial earlier this year of six sexual assaults of two girls, eight counts of sexual assault of their seven-year-old cousin and eight counts of raping a boy orally and anally.

The offending took place between 1999 and 2004 at three separate locations in Galway. The two female victims, who are sisters, were aged between four and five years old at the time of the incidents, while the boy – a cousin of the female victims – was around seven to eight years old at the time.

The accused is an uncle of the three victims and was aged between 12 and 17. The court heard that the victims wish to maintain their anonymity but had no difficulty with the publication of Murphy’s identity.

Maintains innocence

The Galway native had pleaded not guilty to the charges and he continues to maintain his innocence. Some of the offending took place before he was aged 14, the age of criminal responsibility.

The court heard that the abuse came in light in 2017, when the two female victims revealed to each other that they had been sexually abused by their uncle and made a report to gardai. A separate report was made by their cousin around the same time.

The court heard that the man was aged 12 when he first began molesting the boy. These sexual assaults later escalated to oral and anal rapes.

Justice Paul McDermott noted that the offender “no doubt knew what he was doing was wrong” and that he carried out the offending “in secret” and with various ruses to facilitate it.

Murphy was interviewed in May 2018 by appointment and arrested. He denied all wrongdoing and did not accept responsibility. He has seven previous convictions for minor road traffic matters.

Barry White SC, defending, said his client has no recollection of these offences but does express remorse in terms of what was outlined to him. He has sought to engage with services that would be of assistance to him while he is in custody, was assessed by the Probation Service as being at a low risk of sexual reoffending and has the support of his family, counsel said.

Sentencing

Sentencing him on Tuesday, Justice McDermott said the offending was humiliating and degrading to the young victims and that their uncle broke every conceivable element of family trust.

He said that if the offender had committed these offences as an adult he would be facing a 15 year prison sentence. Justice McDermott said he had to take into consideration the youth of the offender at the time and also noted that he is placed at a low risk of sexual reoffending by the Probation Service.

But he said the sexual assaults were at times violent and nasty and that Murphy knew what he was doing was wrong. He imposed a six year sentence for the rape offences and concurrent sentences of two and a half years for the sexual assaults, to run consecutive to the six years.

He suspended the final year of the eight and a half year prison term on condition that Murphy submit himself for assessment for sexual offending programmes and, if deemed suitable, engage fully with these.

He said he was suspending this portion to allow for rehabilitation, noting that the Probation Service assessment stated that Murphy “may move towards facing up to what he has done” in time.

In their victim impact statements, the three victims outlined the effects of the abuse. They said they had been left unable to trust people and that the trial process itself had been re-traumatising.

Trust in family members

Seamus Clarke SC, prosecuting, read the victim impact statement to the court on behalf of the male victim, now aged 28. The man stated that the abuse affected his relationship with his mother, who he blamed for bringing him to the accused’s home.

The now 28-year-old said he lost trust in family members, particularly men. He has mental health difficulties including suicidal ideation, depression and PTSD.

Both female victims, who are both in their 20s now, took to the stand to read their victim impact statements and were crying and visibly upset while doing so.

The first woman told the court: “My childhood was stolen from me”. She said she was four years old when the accused abused her for “his own satisfaction and pleasure” and she could not defend herself.

The accused’s actions “changed my life forever,” she said, adding that she was left to “pick up the pieces” following a “grotesque invasion of my body”.

She told the court that she turned to study to keep her mind distracted and because she was determined the accused would not take away her future. However, she said she took no joy in her academic success.

The four-year-old child who suffered brutally can now rest in peace and I can move on

She said hearing the guilty verdict was “one of the best moments of my life, I felt vindicated”.

“The four-year-old child who suffered brutally can now rest in peace and I can move on.”

The second woman told the court she “still could not put into words” how much the accused had traumatised her by his actions.

She said he caused “so much hate in her heart” that she cannot trust people. She said she has isolated herself, while others her age are out enjoying themselves.

She recalled screaming internally at her father on her communion day to read her mind, but he couldn’t. She said she turned to food to deal with her feelings, suffered bullying in school and struggled with her studies.

She also suffered with suicidal ideation, before deciding to tell her “deepest secret” to her sister, who then shared her own secret. She said she felt this decision had saved both women.

She said she felt free after the abuse was reported to gardai, but was scared to cross paths with the accused or other family members. She did not sleep at night, afraid that the accused was outside her window.

Addressing her younger self, she said the girl could sleep in peace as she no longer has to check outside her windows at night.

Mr White asked the court to take into account his client’s young age at the time of the offence. He said the man was now 20 years older and had accrued only road traffic offences.

He pointed to the probation report which he said outlined his clients good work ethic and the fact he had been in constant employment since school. He handed testimonials into court.

Mr White asked the court to show clemency and leave some light at the end of the tunnel.

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. 

In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112. 

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