A man described by a judge as “a paedophile of the dangerous kind” has been jailed for 18 years for raping and abusing children for nearly three decades.
A man described by a judge as “a paedophile of the dangerous kind” has been jailed for 18 years for raping and abusing children for nearly three decades. The abuse, which took place at a number of addresses in Co Louth, continued until one of his victims went to gardaí in April 2015.
Peter Sharkey (47) of Mucknow Street, Castleblaney, Co Monaghan, sexually abused six children and raped two of them. The victims were aged from nine to 16 when Sharkey attacked them.
Sharkey pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three counts of indecent assault on dates ranging from 1987 to 1990 and six counts of sexual assault committed on dates between 1997 and 2015.
He also admitted one count of rape with an object on a date in 1998 or 1999 and one count of rape in 2014.
In sentencing yesterday, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy paid tribute to the victims, saying the “trigger point” occurred when one victim, now aged 19, went to gardaí in April 2015 to report that she had been raped.
This resulted in the other five victims coming forward to report what the judge termed “extremely serious” abuse.
“Although they were isolated while the abuse was occurring, perhaps there is some comfort now in realising that together they brought him to justice,” he said.
Mr Justice McCarthy said several comments made by the complainants in their victim impact statements “made for very striking reading”.
“This court sees again and again victims saying they have little confidence and self esteem and never told anyone of their secret,” he said.
Two of the girls were sisters, aged in their teens, at the time of abuse.
“He stole a piece of my soul and today I'm here to reclaim it,” one of the sisters told the court.
The other sister said she didn't want to be responsible for breaking up a family and therefore buried the memories of the abuse.
“The damage cannot be undone; no child should ever have to carry this burden. I was targeted in my own home, and he left me in a constant state of fear,” a fourth victim told the court.
The fifth victim said in her statement that the defendant robbed her of her childhood and said she had to sleep with her mother for months after the abuse came to light.
“Nobody knows the fear I had to live with, the man who was supposed to love and protect me,” she said.
The youngest victim, a juvenile male, told the court via video link that he blamed himself for the abuse perpetrated against him and he is left with anger and sad memories.
Gross breach of trust
Justice McCarthy said the offending was “a gross breach of trust” and constituted “the most extreme category of offence”.
“There is no cure for paedophilia. This is a case where there is no alternative but to conclude that this man is a paedophile of the dangerous kind. I cannot sentence him on this basis as the law does not allow for it,” he said.
He noted that the accused had shown contrition a fortnight before he pleaded guilty but not while dealing with gardaí.
“However the first step towards rehabilitation is acknowledging guilt. This defendant entered guilty pleas, made admissions of guilt, showed an acceptance of his wrongdoing and one can only infer that there is contrition here,” Justice McCarthy said.
Mr Justice McCarthy imposed various consecutive sentences totaling 18 years. He said he had looked at sentencing in the round, to ensure it was not disproportionate as there are multiple victims in this case.
“It is one of those cases where the sentences have to be consecutive so that there is punishment for the wrong done to each victim,” he said.
He directed that the defendant undergo supervision by the probation services for a period of five years upon release and ordered that his name be entered onto the sex offenders register.
He acknowledged that Sharkey had a good record of employment and was in employment at the time of offending but had since lost his job in Dundalk.