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Army sergeant jailed for sexually assaulting his wife’s niece – Homepage

Sonya McLean and Claire Henry

An army sergeant who sexually assaulted his wife’s young niece over a six-year period has been jailed for seven years.

Anthony Canning (74) of Fadden, Carrig, Birr, Co Offaly pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to two charges of indecent assault, three charges of indecent assault and one charge of oral rape of Celine Daly on dates between December 21, 1987 and December . 1993.

James Dwyer SC, prosecuting, said Ms Daly, who was aged between seven and 13 at the time of the offences, wanted to waive her anonymity in the case so Canning could be named.

Canning, who was married to Ms Daly’s aunt, was aged between 37 and 43 at the time of the abuse, which took place at his home.

Ms Daly read out her own victim impact statement, which said: “I stand before you, not as a victim, but as a survivor.”

“I may get emotional, but that’s because I’m finally being heard.” She described her home as happy and safe and that she had “no fear, but that changed when I was seven”.

She said the defendant was in a “trusted position in our family” and “you used this position to gain access to me.”

“I used to hold myself back and live in fear, but not anymore.” She said the abuse left “a lot of emotional scars that no one can see.”

“I couldn’t have gotten through this without my partner. I have learned to trust again, but that is not without problems.”

The woman described: “I felt safe for the first time in her life since I was seven, and this is a strange feeling for me.”

The woman concluded by saying, “I see now that I had no role in this and that it was not my fault, but yours. I finally feel like I can be heard and believed. The night I spoke to the Gardai changed my life. I hope you now feel the shame and guilt I have lived with all my life.”

Judge Tony Hunt said: “I hope that making this statement will help you heal and move on with the rest of your life.”

He said Ms Daly’s victim impact statement spoke “frankly and directly” about the long-term effects of sexual abuse, but also about the “positive impact” of disclosing it to gardaí.

“A successful outcome can return the burden of shame and guilt where it belongs on the shoulders of the accused,” Justice Hunt said.

He imposed a headline sentence of 10 years, taking into account the age difference between Canning and Mrs Daly and the fact the abuse took place in what was “effectively an extension of her home”, adding that a child should feel safe if he visits a child’s house. family member.

Mr Justice Hunt said the offenses represented “serious misconduct towards a young family member over a significant period of time”.

He acknowledged that Canning had pleaded guilty, which was of significant benefit to Ms Daly, and said it would have been “traumatic” for her to have retold the details of the abuse to a jury of 12 strangers.

Mr Justice Hunt acknowledged Canning’s previous good job performance and lack of previous convictions before imposing a seven-year prison sentence for the offense of oral rape.

Detective Garda James Kingston told Mr Dwyer that Ms Daly was seven years old when Canning first started abusing her.

He said Ms Daly regularly called Canning’s home most Saturdays and remembered she would be alone in the house with him. She later told gardaí that the abuse initially involved Canning touching her breasts and vagina.

The court heard Canning was on a business trip to Lebanon around this time.

Ms Daly also told gardaí that during the latest incident of sexual abuse, Canning forced the girl to perform oral sex on him. She said she was 11 or 12 years old at the time and Canning told her what to do.

As a young teenager, Ms Daly disclosed the abuse to a friend when she was staying with them. It was later reported to gardaí and Canning was eventually taken in for questioning in April 2021.

Canning told gardaí he spent his childhood in an orphanage and served in the armed forces, having completed four tours of duty in Lebanon.

He initially denied the allegations but later admitted touching Ms Daly. He claimed he did not touch her sexually.

Canning was due to stand trial in February this year but pleaded guilty before a jury was selected.

Agreeing with Coleman Cody SC, Det Gda Kingston defended that his client had not previously come to Garda attention, has co-operated with the Garda investigation and has always complied with his bail conditions.

Mr Cody read out a short letter of apology from his client to the court: “I would like to apologize to you and your family for any pain and stress I have caused you.”

Mr Cody said there is a very positive probation report before the court, putting his client at low risk of reoffending. He outlined that the suspect has shown remorse for his actions and has pleaded guilty.

Counsel said his client served in the military for nearly 37 years and traveled overseas four times as a sergeant. He said his client had problems with alcohol in the past but has now been sober since 1997.

Counsel said that based on these allegations and the investigation, his client has suffered from anxiety and depression and attempted to end his own life. He said apart from these matters he never came to the attention of the Garda. He is supported by his ex-wife, partner and children.

He asked the court to consider giving his client some hope during the sentencing phase and to consider suspending part of the sentence.

If you have suffered from any of the issues discussed in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline on 1800-77 8888, access the text message service and web chat options at drcc.ie /services/helpline/ or go to Rape Crisis Support.