By Aoife Nic Ardghail

A woman secretly recorded a family meeting at which she confronted her brother about raping her when they were children, a court has heard.

Excerpts of this audio recording on the woman's phone were played to a Central Criminal Court jury during the 43-year-old man's trial last month.

In the recording, he expressed apologies to his sister but did not make admissions.

The Donegal man, who cannot be named to protect the woman's anonymity, had pleaded not guilty to four charges of anal rape, one of oral rape and one of sexual assault at the family home in the north west between May 1991 and June 1993.

After a trial in March a jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts on all charges. The man has no previous convictions.

Today, Defence counsel Michael O'Higgins SC submitted that though the man accepted the jury had returned verdicts and that he must live by them, he was making no admissions to the crimes.

A local garda told Pauline Walley SC, prosecuting, that the man abused his sister when he was in his mid-teens and she was aged between ten and 12 years. He committed the crimes in the family home while their parents were out working.

The garda said the woman made her garda statement in 2015 after tensions between her brother and other family members went unresolved. The garda said the family found out about the allegations following a confrontation between the woman, her brother and his wife in early 2013.

After this, there was a family meeting at which the man said he couldn't recall the abuse. He denied the allegations when his wife joined the group on that occasion.

Some of the family who were at this meeting, including their mother, gave evidence about this at the trial.

The man's father told the jury he met his son on a separate occasion in 2015. When the man said he had “done wrong” to his sister, his father said he took this to be an admission of sexual abuse.

In her victim impact statement, which she read in court, the woman described how she had tried to resolve the issue within the family for nearly three years before going to gardaí.

She said all she had wanted was an acknowledgement from her brother of his wrongdoing, but that he had chosen to put his family on the witness stand in court. The woman said had he acknowledged the abuse when it first came to light in 2013, she could have forgiven him.

She said it was the “hardest” decision to go to the gardaí, but when she did she “never felt better” about herself.

The woman thanked her husband, family, gardaí, the prosecution team and judge and jury for believing in her and helping her find the strength to get through the trial. She paid special tribute to the Victim Support at Court team for providing “a haven” where “nobody judges you”.

Mr O'Higgins outlined to Justice Tara Burns his client's long work history and his involvement with sports and his local community. He handed in character references describing the man as “kind and hospitable”, “industrious” and “honest”.

Counsel submitted that the consequences of conviction for his client at this stage in his life was not comparable had the trial been a few years after commission. He asked the judge to bear this in mind and be as lenient as possible when imposing sentence.

Ms Justice Burns remanded the man on continuing bail until May to allow him to get his affairs in order ahead of his sentence.

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