Brother and sister sexually abused in foster care after teenager took them ‘under his wing’

Cork man (37) jailed for nine years after pleading guilty to offences dating back to the early 2000s

A Cork man who sexually abused a brother and sister in foster care after taking them “under his wing” has been jailed for nine years at the Central Criminal Court.

The accused was aged between 14 and 17 at the time of the offending, while his victims were aged between nine and 13. The abuse ended when he turned 18 and left the home.

The now 37-year-old accused, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victims, pleaded guilty to multiple counts of raping and sexually assaulting the boy and girl on dates between 2002 and 2004. He also pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of both victims. He has 21 previous convictions.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott said the age difference between the accused and his victims had been exploited and the trust they had in him was “cruelly betrayed”. He said the accused clearly knew what he was doing was wrong and went to great length to orchestrate his offending. He noted that both victims had suffered deeply.

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He said the accused was watching pornography at a young age, as well as using alcohol and cannabis. The judge said if the accused had offended as an adult the headline sentence would be 20 to 21 years imprisonment, but as he was a child at the time he set a headline of 13 years.

Mr Justice McDermott reduced that to 10 years imprisonment after taking mitigation into account. In order to encourage the man’s rehabilitation, he suspended the final year for three years on strict conditions. He also ordered five years post release supervision for the protection of the public and the victims.

An investigating garda told John Fitzgerald SC, prosecuting, that the brother and sister met the accused after they were taken into care in the same home and he took them “under his wing”. The garda said there was a period of him being “nice” and trust being built up before the abuse began. Once the sexual abuse started, the siblings said they were physically afraid of the accused.

The accused was arrested in 2020 after a complaint was made to gardaí. He had suggested that his accusers might have been abused by someone else, but guilty pleas were entered prior to a trial date.

Victim impact statement were prepared by the siblings for the judge, but they did not wish for them to be read in open court.

Ronan Munro SC, defending, said his client deeply regrets and apologises for what he did, He said it has been hard for the accused to face up to it and he hopes the siblings get the therapy they need.

He said the last offence was 20 years ago, there has been no reoffending and the accused now presents as a socially isolated man. He is assessed as being at medium risk of reoffending.

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