A “prominent” Galway man who sexually abused his granddaughter and offered her family €200,000 not to go to gardai has been jailed for three years.
The 63-year-old man, who cannot be named as it would identify the victim, abused the girl about 40 times from the age of nine to 12.
He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on the day his trial was due to start. He admitted to 18 sample counts of sexual assault at his home, apartments he rented out and a holiday resort in Portugal between June 2005 and June 2007.
Judge Martin Nolan said the man’s actions were “unforgivable” and he had “sullied his family”. However, he took into account that his conviction will “render him open to humiliation”. He imposed three one-year sentences to run consecutively.
Detective Garda Mary Burke told the prosecution that the abuse first occurred in an apartment that the accused was renting out. He sat on the bed and molested the girl before asking her if she wanted to go home, or “if she wanted to do more”. She said she wanted to go home and in the car he told her “there are certain things you have to keep quiet”.
After that the abuse mostly occurred on a couch in the man’s home when he was minding the girl after school. She said he would tap the couch and look at her and she would have to go over and sit beside him. The man would sometimes put a blanket over the girl, and use this to hide that he was touching her.
The abuse also took place in a bed in his house when she was sleeping over and also on holiday in Portugal. After a while rumours started to circulate in the community about the abuse. The man approached the girl’s father, his son, about the allegations. His son had not heard the rumours but assured him he did not believe them.
Soon after, the girl told her family about the abuse and they confronted the man. He initially denied it but then made admissions. Over the next week he sent the victim’s mother several text messages asking her to meet with him. One said he was “at the point of no return” and offered her €50,000, a new car and a holiday to Disneyland if she would not go to the gardai.
A later text made a “final offer” of €200,000 to be paid within days and a further €50,000, which the girl would get when she turned 18, if her parents would “not press charges”. The girl’s mother ignored all these texts and had already made a statement to gardai with her daughter. The man was arrested and interviewed where he made full admissions.
“My brain was not functioning,” he told gardai. “I don’t know why I would be caressing the child.” Det Gda Burke said he was a prominent and well-known member of the community who had run a local business before retiring. Defence counsel, Bernard Madden handed in reports stating that his client had actively participated in psychological treatment and was at a low risk of reoffending.