herald

Monday 21 August 2017

Victim's relief as rapist uncle gets 15 years in prison

Sonya Stokes
Sonya Stokes

A WOMAN who was raped by her uncle, Joseph Hogan, has expressed her relief that the man who she said "stole my innocence forever" has been jailed for 15 years.

"Now I know that no other child will actually be raped or abused by this man," Sonya Stokes (37) said after his sentencing.

Hogan (61) of Rose Court, Keyes Park, Limerick city, had been jailed in the early 1970s for indecently assaulting a young girl.

He raped and sexually assaulted Ms Stokes a decade later when she was aged between seven and eleven.

child

Ms Stokes waived her right to anonymity to give her reaction to Hogan's jailing and she welcomed the 15-year sentence.

"It feels great because now I know that no other child will actually be raped or abused by this man," she said.

"Over 35 or 40 years this man has got away with abusing so many children."

After a trial last month a jury at the Central Criminal Court convicted Hogan of one count of attempted rape, three counts of rape and three counts of indecent assault at a house in Co Limerick between December 1984 and December 1988.

He had pleaded not guilty.

Mr Justice Paul Carney declared Hogan a sex offender and said "the two most fruitful sources of mitigation, a plea of guilty coupled with genuine remorse and previous good character" are unavailable to him.

Mr Justice Carney said the rape offence "merited" 15 years in jail and imposed 10 years for the attempted rape and eight years for the sexual assault counts. All sentences are to run concurrently.

In a victim impact report read to the court, Ms Stokes said Hogan had stolen her childhood from her.

"His sick twisted mind stole my innocence forever, my childhood, my teenage years, my dignity, my trust in relationships," she said.

The court heard that in 1973 Hogan was jailed here for six months for an indecent assault of a similar nature. In 1974 he was convicted in the UK for the indecent assault of a girl under 14 years of age.

He returned to Ireland from the UK with his wife and they had a number of children. In 1995 and 1998 Hogan was convicted for indecent assaults committed after the abuse of Ms Stokes.

Hogan first raped his niece in 1984 after placing her on a washing machine in a utility room in his home. Other rapes took places in the living room while there was another baby in the house and in a shed.

He molested her while she was in a bath with other children in the same bathtub.

Bed

In one incident the child was asleep in her aunt's bed with her aunt and other children in the room. Hogan came home and got into the bed and molested her. He blocked her mouth with his hand and he tried to force himself on her.

He only stopped when his wife woke up and told him to stop. Ms Stokes said she suffers flashbacks, stress and anxiety as a result of the abuse.

"I cry for the pain and hurt he caused," Ms Stokes said outside the court. "I have tears locked inside that could probably fill an ocean."

Speaking after the sentencing Ms Stokes encouraged other victims of abuse to speak out, and thanked the gardai and officers in the UK, the Victim Support Officers and Hogan's other victims.

hnews@herald.ie

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