Man gets 8 years for repeatedly raping young nephews; Victim says 'he abused me like an animal'

A Dublin man who repeatedly raped his two nephews when they were small boys has been jailed for eight years.

James Maher (aged 64) inflicted “pain and violence” on his young nephews, who were aged just eight and six when he started abusing them 37 years ago, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard today.

One victim described how Maher abused him “like an animal” and both brothers described turning to drugs as a way of coping with the pain of the abuse.

Judge Patricia Ryan jailed him for nine years but suspended the final year, taking into account his age, health issues, guilty plea and lack of previous convictions.

In a victim impact statement previously read out in court, one of the man's victims, now aged 44, said he had considered murdering his uncle in the years since he was repeatedly sexually abused as a child.

“But that would be letting you off easy,” he told his uncle. “Here I stand, not as a victim. I'm free, you're caged. You'll answer to God and you'll answer to granny and granddad.”

Maher, with an address in Cherry Orchard Green, Ballyfermot, Dublin, pleaded guilty to six counts of sexually abusing his nephews, Keith Fox and Richard Fox, at various locations in Dublin between January 1980 and March 1984.

They were aged between eight and 13 years' old and six and seven years' old respectively at the time of the offences.

The court heard the victims wished to waive their anonymity so their uncle could be named.

They waited to come forward about the abuse until after their grandparents had died, for fear of how the revelations about their son would affect them.

Sergeant Kevin Moran told Antonia Boyle BL, prosecuting, that in the case of the older brother, the abuse started when the boy dropped over laundry to his uncle's home.

The court heard Maher frequently comforted him throughout the abuse, told him it was “OK” and “alright” and that it was “our secret”.

The younger brother recalled he was first abused at the age of six when his uncle invited him around to his grandparent's home to watch a video.

The abuse stopped when Maher got a girlfriend, the court heard. He went on to marry and have children.

In his victim impact statement read out in court, Keith Fox said: “My uncle, this man, robbed my youth and spirit. He abused me like an animal. I felt like a piece of dirt my entire life.”

“Those acts I endured, I would not wish on my worst enemy,” he added.

The man described how he struggled with his conscience about not coming forward after family members asked him not to. “I was scared he was doing it to other kids. I know what a monster he is,” he said.

Both brothers described how they turned to drugs for a long time as a way of coping with the pain and the flashbacks from the abuse.

Richard Fox said he had suffered from severe depression and had relationship issues. “I feel incapable of showing love my whole life,” he said.

He said the abuse “still makes me angry, sad and physically sick”.

Both men cried in court as they listened to the evidence and hugged after reading out their statements.

The court heard Maher made some admissions to gardaí when he was questioned in 2013, telling them he had sexually abused his nephews after reading books about sex. He said he had “never been with a woman” at that stage and didn't know much about sex. He was aged between 26 and 30 at the time of the abuse.

The court heard he took a drug overdose and spent some time in hospital.

Defence barrister Damien Colgan SC, told the court his client was a man who had worked all his life and who had some health problems now. He said Maher was extremely remorseful and had written a letter of apology to his victims some time ago.

The court heard Maher received counselling for sexual issues in the 1990s, although no treatment records were available.

He had pleaded guilty to several counts of indecent assault on the two boys.


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