A retired school bus driver from Ballyconneely has been given a ten-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay €20,000 compensation to a woman he sexually assaulted as a child 38 years ago.
Brendan Joyce (68) of Doohulla, Ballyconneely, indecently molested the child of his neighbour, Thirteen-year-old Catherine McEvoy, contrary to common law and as provided for in Section 10 of the Law Act 1981 criminal (rape).
The victim waived his right to anonymity in Galway Circuit Criminal Court so that Joyce, who committed what Judge Brian O’Callaghan described as a “grotesque offence” at the age of 30, can be named.
In April, after a four-day trial, a jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict on the charge against Joyce, whom the court heard denied to admit wrongdoing.
Garda Barry Maguire said the defendant, now married with a teenage son, drove his victim to a field near her home on a date between June 1 and September 30, 1984, where he carried out the assault.
He said Joyce touched her around her genitals and attempted to digitally penetrate her before she kicked him and managed to free herself, returning home to alert her mother.
Ms McEvoy made a complaint to the gardaí in 2019 and Joyce was arrested and questioned, but “was of no help”, Garda Maguire said.
In her victim impact statement, which she read out in court, Ms McEvoy recalled how “on a beautiful summer day 35 years ago” Joyce lied to her and her brothers and sisters. sisters, so he could separate them and “take me to a secluded place and assault me”.
“A part of me died that day in the bog,” an emotional Ms McEvoy said.
She said what Joyce subjected her to cracked her family’s foundations and changed their “understanding of normality and decency”.
Ms McEvoy said she was left with a very dark and deep depression that had been with her for years and that Joyce’s arrogance and continued lies were shocking.
“You chose to harm my life for your own sexual gratification,” she said.
The court heard that the victim’s mother spoke to Joyce’s mother after the assault and later the attacker’s mother ordered her to stay away from Ms McEvoy.
Judge Brian O’Callaghan said that was, as Ms McEvoy put it, “the way things were done at the time”.
Referring to his victim impact statement which he called “very impressive”, the judge said: “You don’t blame these two ladies, the mother of the abuser and your mother.”
Judge Brian O’Callaghan said what Joyce did was “nothing short of despicable”.
During her engagements with the probation service, Joyce brought up her mother telling her to stay away from the victim.
“This court is entitled to infer that this man knew exactly why his mother told him to stay away from Ms McEvoy,” said Judge O’Callaghan, who he said made the court particularly comfortable with the jury’s decision.
He said the maximum sentence he could impose was two years in prison due to the law at the time the offense occurred.
“Fortunately, the law has since been updated,” Judge O’Callaghan said.
Joyce was placed on the sex offender registry following his conviction.
The court had to impose sentences on a scale based on the seriousness of the crime – and because of the age of the offense that scale was limited, Judge O’Callaghan said.
“Unfortunately, this court has seen much more serious sexual abuse cases come before it,” he continued.
The maximum proportionate sentence he could impose was one year in prison, reduced from two months to ten months, taking into account that this was Joyce’s first offense and that he presented a low risk of recidivism.
The judge said the court had to consider whether sending the offender to jail for what ‘effectively’ would be four or five months was the best approach to take and in the circumstances he said he did not believe so not.
However, he said he wanted to force Joyce to acknowledge the harm he had done and said he would suspend the ten-month sentence for two years on the condition that he pay €20,000 in compensation to his victim.
He said the money ‘in no way valorized the injury’ and would not infringe on any other rights of the victim.
“Either he recognizes the victim and pays that compensation or he goes to jail,” Judge O’Callaghan said.