A 45-year-old woman who was sexually abused for ten years by a family friend has been awarded €450,000 in damages at the High Court.

Mr Justice George Birmingham said the abuse had a catastrophic and devastating effect on Sinead McCarthy Garofalo's life.

He said her experience was "at the highest point on the scale" in such cases.

The judge noted the evidence of a psychologist who had treated hundreds of abuse victims.

He said her case was in the top three in terms of severity of the effect it had on her.

Ms Garofalo, from Palmerstown Wood in Dublin, took a civil action against her abuser Bernard Delaney, who she said had ruined her life and stolen her childhood.

Ms Garofalo, who waived her anonymity, told the court she was abused over a ten-year period from the age of four.

The case was heard before the High Court for assessment of damages after judgment was obtained against the defendant in October 2011.

He had not appeared in court to defend the case.

Delaney, from Oaktree Lawn, Castleknock, was sentenced to five years in jail in 2008 after admitting abusing seven girls in the 1970s and 1980s.

The judge said the abuse had affected three generations of her family as her parents were left with the guilt of feeling they had not protected her and she feared she was passing on her insecurities to her two children.

He said it had also affected her relationships. It was clear she would have had a different life if it were not for the abuse.

All of her siblings were high achievers and it was obvious she would have been too, had it not been for the intervention of the defendant, the judge said.

He awarded her a total of €450,000 in damages, €150,000 of which was for injury suffered into the future.

She was too ill to come to court today. In a statement afterwards, her solicitor Elizabeth Howard said the judgment reflected the serious nature of the assaults.