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Man jailed for sexual exploitation and rape of his teenage nephew

A Galway man has been jailed for nine years after he pleaded guilty to the sexual exploitation and rape of his teenage nephew seven years ago.

The 51-year-old, who can’t be named to protect the identity of the victim, pleaded guilty to one count of anal rape on an unknown date between June 1st 2016 and June 1st 2017 at a location in Galway.

He further pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of sexual exploitation during the same period of time.

The Central Criminal Court heard that there is a 31-year age gap between the man and the victim, who was aged between 14 and 15 at the time.

An investigating garda told Patrick Gageby SC, prosecuting, during a previous hearing last month, that the defendant had horses at his home and the victim liked to spend time there.

The offending took place at a number of locations including the defendant’s car, his home, a horsebox and at the victim’s home. The abuse included inappropriate touching and masturbation, then escalated to incidents of oral and anal rape.

On one occasion, the man groped his nephew while they were cleaning a horsebox, then told the boy: “Don’t say anything or I could go to jail”.

The abuse came to light in 2017, when the victim’s family became worried due to changes in his behaviour. The court heard the boy went from being “happy go lucky” to someone who misbehaved. The boy told his older sister about the abuse, but did not initially wish to make a complaint to gardaí.

The man went to the local garda station voluntarily and admitted to indecently assaulting the boy three times. He was arrested in November 2018 and interviewed three times.

The man pleaded guilty on the trial date last March after a jury had been empanelled. He has no previous convictions.

A victim impact statement was read to the court by the investigating garda. The complainant said the abuse had affected his mental health and his family relationships. He said he found it hard to communicate and “wanted to forget everything”.

Ms Justice Karen O’Connor thanked the victim for preparing his statement. She said the change in his behaviour and anger was “not unusual”, but a “typical reaction for a child who does not know how to react”.

She noted that a large number of family members were in court to support the victim and encouraged him to rely on their support.

“They are giving you support because they love you and want you to be able to move on with your life” she said.

She imposed a sentence of nine and half years and suspended the final six months on strict conditions.

Defence counsel said his client apologised to the victim for his “shameful and disgraceful behaviour” and the damage it caused.

His client is single, lives with his mother and had a good work history. The man is isolated from other family members. He has also been subjected to abuse, which suggested the local community was aware of his offending. This represented a “fall from grace”, particularly in a rural community, defence counsel submitted.

Referring to the probation report, defence counsel said his client may benefit from therapy and victim-focused work to gain more insight into his offending and its impact.

He noted the report states that the man accepts he caused harm to the victim through his actions, but does not accept the victim’s account in relation to the rape charges. Defence counsel said he had spoken to this client about this, and he does not wish to change his guilty plea.

Defence counsel asked the court to give weight to the guilty plea, which meant the victim did not have to give evidence during a trial

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.

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