Elderly Cavan paedophile, 86, who sexually abused young siblings spared jail
An elderly paedophile who sexually abused a young sister and brother has been spared jail due to his age and ill health.
John Joe Kiernan, 86, also made vile threats to the girl that he would bury her among animal bones at the family farm where he worked as a labourer.
But the judge said if the pervert had been a younger man the court would have imposed a lengthy jail sentence.
Dad-of-two Kiernan abused the victims around six decades ago when they were aged between four and 10.
He pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to six sample counts of indecently assaulting the boy between 1958 and 1963 and five sample counts of abusing the victim’s younger sister between 1959 and 1963.
He also admitted raping the girl in her bedroom on an unknown date between 1959 and 1964.
All the offending took place on or near the victims’ family farm in Arva where Kiernan worked as a labourer. Judge Michael White imposed sentences of eight years for the rape and five years and two years for the indecent assaults.
But he suspended all sentences on condition Kiernan keeps the peace.
He noted the accused has already served time in prison for indecent assaults on three boys and a girl. The offences took place between 1963 and 1973.
At the sentencing hearing last week Mr Justice White praised the “unbelievable courage” of the victims for going to gardai last year.
A prosecution lawyer told the court the siblings, who are now in their 60s, wanted Kiernan’s name published but to retain their own anonymity.
The victim told gardai: “I never remember being afraid. This was just normal life for me.”
The woman said Kiernan, from Arva, Co Cavan, would indecently assault her while she sat on his knee. The court heard on one occasion she was out in a field with her father and the defendant.
Her dad told Kiernan to take her inside because it was freezing cold. She said he gave her a drink like whiskey and then raped her.
The woman added she felt she was in a trance and lay still and the pervert was saying “good girl” to her. During a later incident, Kiernan was caught assaulting the girl when his mother walked in.
This woman began beating him and shouting at him to “get her out of here”.
Kiernan took the victim out into the back garden and threw her on the ground. He had his foot on her and told her: “Don’t say anything. I’ll bury you with all the other bones around here. No one will find you.”
The woman told gardai that for years afterwards she was affected by these words and thought there were other children buried in the ground.
Mr Justice White said the “spine- chilling threat” showed Kiernan knew what he was doing was seriously wrong.
In victim impact statements, the sister told how the accused had shattered her childhood innocence and damaged the safety of her family home.
She said she carried what he did to her for 60 years and revealed she has received “outstanding support” since coming forward.
Her brother described feeling shock and horror when he learned Kiernan had also abused his sister.
He said he found it very stressful telling his wife about the abuse but now feels relief and realises “this is not my fault”.