herald

Wednesday 13 November 2019

'I feel free at last', says abuse victim Terri as rapist stepdad jailed

Terri Mullarney said the verdict gave her ‘the closure I need’
Terri Mullarney said the verdict gave her ‘the closure I need’

A young woman whose stepfather was jailed for 12 years for rape has said she finally feels free of her childhood abuser.

Terri Mullarney (22) was seen emerging from the Central Criminal Court with her mother yesterday after former soldier Thomas Mullarney (61), of Cahir, Louisburgh, Co Mayo, was sentenced.

Ms Mullarney, from Mayo, was only six when he began abusing her. He continued to do so regularly for the next decade.

The victim, who waived her right to anonymity so her stepfather could be named, said yesterday was "one of the most cleansing days of my life".

Betrayal

"I finally feel free," she said. "This has meant everything in the world to me as a way of finding the closure I need. I no longer carry the burden of guilt, shame or betrayal as justice has been served.

"My reason for going public is in light of helping anyone else out there who might be still in the dark suffering. I hope my journey can be your guide."

Ms Mullarney said she feels the 12-year prison sentence was appropriate, adding: "I suffered 12 years with abuse, so I think it's an eye for an eye."

Thomas Mullarney pleaded guilty to sexual assaults at a house in Dublin on dates between October 2003 and January 2005.

He also admitted rape of the child at a house in Co Mayo on two occasions in November 2011 and September 2014.

The court heard Mullarney would molest her while forcing her to watch adult porn.

She was 13 when he raped her after giving her wine to drink. The next day he told her he was nervous about her getting pregnant and told her to take her mother's contraceptive pills.

The court heard that in Aug-ust 2014 the then teenager went to her stepfather after a row with her boyfriend.

He gave her tea and half a sleeping tablet, and she awoke later to find him raping her.

After she went to gardai in 2017, he man admitted the offending. He said he was abusing cocaine and alcohol at the time and did not remember all the alleged incidents.

Mary Rose Gearty, defending, said her client was institutionalised by his treatment at the industrial schools in Artane and Clonmel.

She said he later received compensation for the abuse and spent the money on alcohol and cocaine.

She said a psychological assessment which places him at a high risk of re-offending is based on his isolation and previous abuse of drink and drugs.

The psychologist noted that while those who suffer abuse do not usually go on to abuse others, "it is a noted consequence in a minority of cases".

Reading from her victim impact statement, Ms Mullarney said the abuse was an aspect of everyday life during her childhood.

She said she was over-sexualised from a very early age, including simulating sex with teddy bears and dolls.

Mr Justice Michael White noted the devastating effects on the victim, who considered Mullarney to be her father and described a special bond with him.

Hated

The judge said the victim had loved her stepfather but hated what he was doing to her.

He said the court also had wider concerns in relation to the hallmark of making the victim special, which he said reflected a very serious type of "grooming" on Mullarney's part.

He imposed consecutive sentences totalling 14 years and suspended the final two years.

He said Mullarney should be assessed for the Better Lives treatment programme and remain under probation supervision for the suspended part of the sentence.

If you are affected by any issues in this article, contact Samaritans on 116123 or Women's Aid 1800 341900.

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