Bus driver jailed for abusing sisters during ‘sweet games’

October 28, 2016

A bus driver has been sentenced to four and half years after pleading guilty to indecently assaulting two sisters during which he tricked them into playing ‘sweet games’ while he abused them.

Brave Cathy and Caroline Brady waived their anonymity in a bid to name Inishowen man Leo McFarland.

McFarland, now 57, had originally pleaded not guilty to a total of 53 charges against the sisters at his home in Carndonagh when he previously appeared in court.

The abuse happened on dozens of occasions for two years between 1983 and 1985 when the girls were aged 5 and 7.

However McFarland, a 57 year old father-of-five daughters, dramatically changed his plea and admitted to the charges against the women.

His case was put back until today for a probation and psychological report to be carried out on the accused.

The court heard how the lives of the women had changed forever since the abuse.

McFarland was a neighbour of the victims at the time on Convent Road, Carndonagh and was friendly with the two victims and their family.

The women revealed how their attacker would assault them in his kitchen while the other girls waited outside in the hall.

Cathleen and Caroline Bardy leaving court today. Pic by Northwest Newspix.

Cathleen and Caroline Bardy leaving court today. Pic by Northwest Newspix.

Cathy Brady fought back tears as she revealed how she has turned to drink and also tried to take her own life as a result of the alleged attacks.

She also suffered from anorexia and her weight reduced to 6 St 5Ibs at one stage.

She revealed how she suffered four miscarriages but thankfully now had a loving partner and was trying to get her life back together.

“He would ask us to look for sweets in his pocket. There would be a hole (in his trouser pocket). He would say ‘move about more and more and squeeze and look for it’. It was his penis. There was never sweets.

“That happened every two to three days. It was on a regular basis. He would then go to the press and get the sweets. They were never in his pockets,” she previously told the court.

She also revealed how McFarland preyed upon her in a vehicle and would sexually interfere with her by inserting his finger into her vagina and her back passage.

She told her mother of the attacks and her mother then spoke with her daughters’ attacker.

The girls late mother told her daughters that they would get their justice in time.

McFarland and his family moved from the area a number of months later.

Cathy Brady said she did not inform the Gardai for a number of years as she was friendly with some of the man’s daughters.

She initially went to Gardai in 2008 but said she did not have the courage to go ahead with the complaint but reactivated her statement in 2010.

Passing sentence Judge John O’Hagan said McFarland has been “calculating, predatory and manipulative.’

He said the girls were only getting to known life and that they had their innocence taken away from them.

“That was absolutely crushed by Mr McFarland,” said the Judge.

He said he viewed the seriousness of the case in the mid-range but said he had to give McFarland some light at the end of the tunnel when he came out of jail.

He sentenced McFarland to four and a half years for each of the 11 sample charges and ordered the sentences to run concurrently.

He also placed McFarland, who was accompanied  to court by two of his daughters, on the sex offenders register.

Speaking after the court, the sisters said they were pleased that their attacker had been jailed for four and a half years.

They said they felt huge sense of relief but were still annoyed that McFarland, of Oak Grove, Millfield, Buncrana, had not apologised or shown any sign of remorse.

Kathleen (Kathy) said “Today was never about the sentencing. It was for him to admit what he done and maybe show some remorse. But he didn’t. The case has been going on for five and half years and he had every opportunity to plead guilty and save us from going through all this.

“This act does not affect only the victims if affects their parents, partners, children and their families, not to mention what his now family have gone through.

“WE waived our right to anonymity to allow other people going through or who have been through the same as us to get help. They should not blame themselves. It was not their fault. There is a lot of help out there,” she said.

She added “We would like to thank our partners, family friends and the community of Carndonagh for their help and support. Thank God it is now finally over and we can move on with the rest of our lives.”