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15.34 15 Jun 2020


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A 75-year-old man has been jailed for 20 years for the repeated abuse of his younger sister and seven daughters from 1977 to 2000.

James O’Reilly of Killeens, Ballynonty, Thurles, in Co Tipperary can be identified because his victims waived their right to anonymity.

Over the course of his five-week trial last year, the court heard James O’Reilly was 34 when he raped his first victim – his 13-year-old sister.

Over the next three years, he regularly attacked her in a van.

His next victim was his daughter.

She was no more than six-years-old when he first attacked her while her mother was in hospital having suffered a miscarriage.

The details of the abuse inflicted on his eight victims were harrowing.

The attacks took place in various locations – in a van, sheds, fields or at the bog.

He threatened to put one of the girls into foster care if she told anyone.

O'Reilly's rape of one daughter caused her to become pregnant in late 1988.

He continued to rape her during the pregnancy.

At the time O’Reilly told his daughter to allege she had been raped by another man.

He continued abusing her and only stopped when she threatened him with a knife.

Later DNA tests confirmed he was the father, a factor which was used to secure his conviction.

One of his other daughters gave evidence of being raped, starved and beaten all her life.

O'Reilly raped another daughter when her mother was in hospital giving birth to another child.

This baby boy died in 1983 and while his partner was grieving, O'Reilly took one girl out and raped her in the pony shed.

Another, who was 10-years-old when she was first abused in 1981, said he raped her 'hundreds, if not thousands of times.’

Mr Justice Tony Hunt considered handing down the maximum life sentence but given O’Reilly’s poor health, he decided on a 20 year jail term – potentially amounting to a life sentence given his age.

In her victim impact statement one of his daughters, Philomena Connors, said she sometimes thinks why did her mother have her and wishes she had never been born.

She said she always had emptiness in her heart and she still has to this day.

Ms Connors said her father had control over her and she could not see how normal people lived.

She said she went on thinking what was happening was normal, but she knows now it was not normal.

She said when she was a child, she did not have a choice what happened to her.

She said her children have a right to a childhood and she does not want them to have the life she had.

Ms Connors said the abuse affects her every single minute of her life. She said she always thinks why, but knows she will never get an answer.

Reporting by: Frank Greaney


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Ballynonty Co Tipperary James O’Reilly Rape Sexual Abuse Thurles

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