A professional Irish musician has been jailed for three years for the rape and sexual assault of his younger sister, which began when she was six years old.
Cian Farrelly, originally from Castlepollard in County Westmeath, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his sister Aoife between December 2007 and May 2009, when she was aged between six and eight years old.
Aoife, who is now 21, waived her right to anonymity so that her brother could be named.
She said she hoped her decision to waive anonymity would give courage to other victims and deter potential offenders from committing crimes against children.
Delivering the sentence on Tuesday, Justice Paul McDermott told Cian Farrelly that he had "destroyed" his sister's life.
The court heard that Cian Farrelly was aged between 15 and 17 when the abuse took place and that Aoife informed her parents about the abuse in 2009.
Cian made limited admissions about the abuse when he was confronted by his parents and the abuse did not recur.
Aoife said in a victim impact statement that she did not blame her parents for the abuse but said she hated that they did not understand the traumatic impact it had on her.
She said Cian was allowed to slot back into her life after the abuse had taken place, adding that she was trapped in the family home with him during the Covid-19 lockdown.
She added that she used to love music, singing, and dancing but said she could no longer touch an instrument because it reminded her of her brother.
"He has torn my whole world apart and I have lost everything because of him," Aoife said in the victim impact statement.
She also outlined how she had to drop out of college after reporting the abuse in 2020 due to stress.
The abuse had also impacted intimate relations and her relationship with her parents, she said.
She concluded the impact statement by saying she hoped she would never see or hear from her brother again.
Cian Farrelly took to the stand to apologize to Aoife, stating that he knew his apology wouldn't mean much to her.
“I destroyed our family and you and anything it meant for me to be your brother. I hope you can rise and come out stronger than before," he said.
Justice McDermott said he could not sentence Cian as severely as he would if he had been an adult at the time of the offenses. He said Cian was well aware that what he was doing was wrong but added that he had to take his age and maturity into account.
He said Cian repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted a very young child who was "helpless, isolated, and alone", adding that a significant degree of violence was involved.
The court also heard harrowing details of how Cian overpowered his younger sister and placed his hand over her mouth to stifle her screams.
Justice McDermott sentenced Cian to four years and six months in prison and suspended the final 18 months of the sentence.
Speaking outside the court, Aoife said no sentence would have been long enough for her brother but welcomed the start of the rest of her life.
"No sentence would have been long enough at all....but just hearing the headline sentence was enough for me," Aoife Farrelly told reporters on Tuesday.
"I always said it had to be three to five (years). That was what I had in my head and I got that. When I got that I just broke down because everything I sacrificed for years has finally made it all worth it."
She added that she was determined not to let the abuse define her.
"I am Aoife Farrelly, this happened to me but it's not going to define me anymore. Today is the start of the rest of my life and I am so grateful that I finally got my little piece of justice that I needed to keep going."