A man has been sentenced to ten years with the final seven years suspended for raping his then four-year-old neighbour and sexually abusing both her brother and their neighbour in a Cavan town 30 years ago.

The now 46-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his three victims, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to two counts of raping the girl when she was aged between four and six years old and two charges of indecently assaulting her over the same period between July 1983 and July 1985.

He also admitted indecently assaulting her brother on a date in July 1983, while he was aged between seven and nine years old and indecently assaulting their female neighbour, while she was aged between six and seven years old on a date between January 1986 and June 1986.

The court heard that the man was aged between 16 and 19 years old himself at the time.

A local detective garda told Monica Lawlor BL, prosecuting, that the man was arrested in March this year and, after an initially denying the charges, made full admissions.

He told gardaí that he had been abused himself as a child.

Three victim impact reports before the court outlined that the brother and sister have both contemplated suicide as a result of the abuse.

The now 34-year-old woman stated that life is a daily struggle and she sometimes goes to bed hoping she will not wake up.

"He didn't just take my innocence, he took my whole childhood. We all trusted him and he abused our trust, our family trust," her statement said.

She was diagnosed with depression about nine years ago and has been attending a counsellor to deal with the pain and hatred she had for herself.

She started binge drinking from a young age to block it out.

Her 37-year-old brother, who still lives in the family home, stated he had never spoken about the abuse until he made a statement to gardaí.

He said since then he has been in "a very bad way mentally" and has contemplated suicide.

"I am afraid I am going to hurt myself. My quality of life has gone," he said.

Their neighbour stated that she had also tried not to think about it and felt that the abuse had turned her from an outgoing child to a quieter one.

"This is a terrible and upsetting thought that it is going to remain with my forever," she said.

Mr Justice Carney said the case warranted a ten-year term but took into account the man's pleas of guilty, lack of previous convictions, youth at the time and the fact that a historical case, like this going back 30 years, would have been difficult to prosecute without his pleas. 

He suspended the final seven years of the term and ordered that the man keep away from his victims in perpetuity.