Sisters waive anonymity right to see tormentor jailed for abuse

Judge's court wig and hammer or gavel
Judge's court wig and hammer or gavel

Two Inishowen sisters who were sexually abused, waived their right to anonymity at Letterkenny Circuit Court this week.

Both Cathy and Caroline Brady declared their intention to be named after the accused changed his plea from not guilty to guilty on Tuesday.

Leo McFarland (57), with an address Oak Grove, Millfield, Buncrana, pleaded not guilty to 53 charges of indecent assault against Cathy and Caroline Brady at an earlier court sitting. He changed his plea and was re-arraigned on 11 charges.

The sexual assaults against the two sisters, who were friends of his daughters, took place over 30 years ago, between April 1983 and December 1985, at Farland’s former home at Convent Road, Carndonagh. The two families lived close by.

One sister was aged between five and seven and the other between seven and nine when the abuse took place, in incidents two to three times a week. It ended after the youngest girl told her mother, who told McFarland that the assaults would end. The visits stopped and the family of the accused moved away.

The sisters claimed some of the assaults involved playing a ‘sweet game’ with McFarland, who asked them to put their hands in his trouser pocket to find a sweet. His pocket would have a hole in it and the girls would touch his genitals. The youngest sisters said he would often give her sweets after he assaulted her.

Giving evidence at Letterkenny Circuit Court, the woman said she was in the same class at school as the daughter of the accused and they were best friends. Her older sister was best friends with another sister.

She said the assaults began when she had just turned five and stopped a few weeks before her First Communion, when she was seven.

Assaults occurred the kitchen and in a bus parked at the back of the house.

The assaults in the bus would happen when the mother of the house was at home and the victim and her friend were asked by the father to help him clean the bus.

On one occasion, when the man was abusing her on the bus she could hear her mother calling her to come home but he continued with the abuse and would not let her leave.

She said the abuse has had a severe effect on her life. She took an overdose, has had an addiction to alcohol and had been referred to a counsellor.

“It destroyed the eight years of my marriage with my husband, affected my children and still does,” she said.

Circuit Court Judge John O’Hagan asked both women to compile separate victim impact reports. He said both women could return to court and outline how the incidents affected them. McFarland was released on continuing bail pending sentencing in April.

McFarland was placed on the sex offenders’ register.