Tipperary man convicted of abusing three children

A Tipperary man who was described as “an animal” will be sentenced next Monday after pleading guilty today to the rape and sexual abuse of three children.

The abuse happened over a 35-year period against three members of his extended family who were all between seven and 11 years old.

Seamus O’Neill (aged 66) from Newcastle, Ballynamona pleaded guilty to rape, indecent assault and sexual assault of the three children on a number of dates between 1965 and 2000.

The most recent case of abuse happened in 2000 against a young female relative of O’Neill’s, who made a complaint to gardaí last year after suffering from constant headaches following the ordeal.

Two other relations then came forward with similar complaints of rape and abuse throughout their childhoods. All three victims waived their right to anonymity so O’Neill could be named.

Detective Garda Dermot Fitzgerald told David Humphries BL, prosecuting, that O'Neill got into his last victim’s bed when she was seven years old. Her two sisters were asleep in the bedroom at the time.

The court heard that he touched her, before leaving the room only to return and repeat the abuse a while later.

The girl told her mother the next day but a complaint was not made to gardaí because the family were worried about the shame it would bring to Mr O'Neill's elderly mother.

The victim suffered serious headaches for many years after the abuse and the family eventually decided to go to gardaí. Shortly after the complaint was made, two other family members came forward with similar accusations of rape and sexual abuse dating back to 1965.

Det Gda Fitzgerald said a female relative now in her 50s was raped by O'Neill when she was between eight and 10 years old between January 1, 1965, and December 31, 1966.

The court heard that O’Neill came into the girl’s room, closed the curtains and got into her bed before touching her. She told him to stop but he threatened to tell her parents that she had been late for school.

O’Neill, who was in his early 20s at the time, molested and raped her. The victim said “he was like an animal, moving and making grunting noises” and “it seemed to go on forever.”

The court heard that O’Neill left the room before returning another two times to repeat the abuse. The detective said the girl was taken to hospital but no complaint was made against O’Neill at the time.

The second case of abuse happened in 1984 against a male relative of O’Neill. The victim said he regularly went to stay with O’Neill throughout his childhood and clearly remembers his summer holidays in 1984 when he was 11 years old.

On one occasion, O’Neill asked the boy to sleep in the same bed with him, before pressing up against him and saying: “feel this”.

O’Neill rubbed himself against the boy sexually to climax, then leaning in and saying: “Let this be our little secret.” This happened another two or three times.

The court heard that the abuse has had a "devastating effect” on the boy.

Det Gda Fitzgerald said O’Neill was arrested on September 23, 2010 and admitted to everything.

Mr Michael Delaney defending, said O’Neill wanted to apologise to his victims. He added that if the case was dealt with earlier O’Neill would be in better shape to handle a prison sentence which could take him into his 70s.

Mr Justice Paul Carney noted that O’Neill had declined bail and was in custody since July 2011. He adjourned sentencing to next week.

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