A father of seven from mid-Louth who admitted sexually assaulting one of his daughters when she was a child, was sentenced to three years at Dundalk Circuit Court last week. The 56 year old defendant Seamus Byrne of Ravanny, Louth Village pleaded guilty to three separate offences on dates unknown between January 1997 and the end of December 2001.
The now 26 year old victim chose not to attend sentencing hearing and waived her right to anonymity. The court heard she made a complaint at Cavan Garda Station in December 2009 and the investigating garda confirmed that Ms. Byrne had said her father had persisted with the abuse while she was at secondary school which Prosecutor Kevin Segrave B.L said suggested that the abuse began when she was in primary school.
The court was told that the abuse when the allegations were put to him the accused did not deny them. The Defence barrister argued that his client - who had no previous convictions, had cooperated fully with the investigation and entered a guilty plea at the first opportunity.
The court heard at the end of his garda interview the defendant said, “All I can say is I apologise. If I’ve done it. I’ve done it”.
The Defence also highlighted the fact that the accused had himself been a victim of sexual abuse. The barrister added that his client had abused alcohol, self-mutilated and attempted suicide in the past and had a heart condition and was unable to attend court on the opening day of the current sittings as he had suffered a heart attack. The barrister also told the court the accused is now alcohol free.
In her victim impact statement, the woman said her life had been destroyed by her father, who she said had taken her childhood from her and abused her from as far back as she can remember until she was 15.
She described her life as “one long roller coaster” and as a child thought all fathers “showed their love like that”.
She said as a teenager she would never allow herself to be alone with boys as she would be afraid of them and told how she had left school at 15.
She said she drank a lot and tried drugs “trying to forget what was going on at home” and added “I was so scared she could barely sleep at night”.
She said she had felt ‘damaged beyond repair’ at one point and was referred to a psychiatrist at Cavan General Hospital.
Judge Michael O’Shea said the abuse was ‘horrific’ and the accused had abused his position of trust, saying “A father should be a protecter of his child not the abuser”.