A 42-year-old accountant has been sentenced to eight years in prison for the sexual assault of four schoolgirls in east Galway over a ten-year period.

Liam Brien, with an address at Valley Park, Killimor, was found guilty of 22 charges of sexual assault last week.

He had denied the charges.

The offences took place in an office at Brien's parents' house on Main Street, Killimor, between 1996 and 2006.

The victims were aged between five and 12 years old when the abuse took place.

During the five-day trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court, the victims told how Brien sexually assaulted each of them in turn, while they sat on his lap in front of his office computer.

Three of the victims - now aged between 18 and 21 - were in court for today's sentencing hearing.

In impact statements, they spoke of how their innocence had been taken from them, how their self esteem had been affected and how they were deeply upset that Brien had refused to take responsibility for his actions.

One said she was proud that by coming forward she may have saved other children's innocence.

Judge Rory MacCabe said the victims had travelled a difficult journey on a long road.

Taking into account the impact and gravity of the crimes and the systematic and repeated nature of the offences, he imposed a two-year sentence in respect of the charges for each victim to run consecutively.

Afterwards, the mother of one of the girls said they were happy the case had ended.

She said the girls and their families were glad to have found closure and were now hoping to get on with their lives.