Woman abused by father and uncle waives right to anonymity

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.
The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

A woman who was abused by her uncle and then some years later by her own father has waived her right to anonymity so her abusers can be identified.

The woman was abused by her uncle Martin Stanley Burke (46) of Creggan Heights in Derry over a two year period from 1989 to 1991 beginning when she was aged four.

Her father, Thomas Gérard Scarlett (58) of Glendale Park also in Derry, was found guilty of indecently assaulting his daughter from October 1995 until October 2001.

Both men had denied the offences but were found guilty by a jury, Burke on a unanimous verdict and Scarlett on a majority one.

The court heard that Martin Stanley Burke was babysitting and approached the then child when she was in bed. He told her to be quiet before he abused her.

He told her ‘the witches would get her if she told,’ knowing the child was ‘very scared of witches.’

On the second occasion the child was asleep and woke up to find Burke assaulting her in a sexual manner. She said he stopped when her brother woke up but she felt ‘yucky’.

The court heard that the victim told her mother and the two of them confronted Burke who said if he had done anything he ‘must have had too much to drink and smoked too much cannabis.’

The victim told the court Burke had said he couldn’t go to jail and added he would kill himself.

In 1995 the family, including Burke, went on a camping holiday and the child refused to sleep in the same tent as her uncle as she was ‘petrified’ and made a disclosure to her father who told the jury: ‘I had no difficulty believing her.’

But he never confronted Burke over the matter.

Then sometime between 1995 and 1997 Scarlett began abusing the girl when she was aged around 12 or 13.

This abuse continued on several occasions and the jury heard that the child would put an ironing board or step ladder against her door to stop anyone coming in.

On one occasion when her father was abusing her he told her ‘you like it’ despite the fact she was ‘crying and crying’.

When the victim said she going to tell her mother Scarlett told her if she did he would kill her and then himself.

Eventually Scarlett was confronted and said ‘if he had done it he must have been drunk and he was sorry.’

Both men denied all the claims against them when they were interviewed by police.

Judge Philip Babington said it was obvious the victim ‘has suffered a great deal both at the time of the abuse, since it and when giving her evidence.’

A pre-sentence report on Burke revealed that he was still denying the offences but claims he does not want to put the victim through anything else.

A report on Scarlett revealed that he too does not accept he ever sexually abused his daughter.

Describing the offending as a gross abuse of trust by both men, Judge Babington said that it was aggravated by the fact it took place in the girl’s own home.

He said: “A child should feel safe in such places.”

The judge said with regards to Burke: ‘To abuse a child aged four or five is quite appalling.’

Referring to Scarlett, Judge Babington said: “His offending and the facts behind it are horrifying as they relate to his own daughter who he knew had already been abused by his brother-in-law. He chose to do nothing about that abuse because he wanted to do something similar.”

Scarlett was sentenced to ten years in prison and Burke to five years.

Both men will stay on the sex offenders register for an indefinite period, and a sexual offenders prevention order was imposed on both of them prohibiting them from having any contact with females under 18 or the injured party.