Victim speaks of devastating impact sexual abuse has had on his life
IN AN emotional and dignified address to the court, Cormac Walsh spoke of the devastating impact years of systematic sexual abuse had had on him.
He said the grooming began when he was just eight years old. ‘From then on he slowly, very slowly got inside my head. He made me think that he was the only person who really cared about me. That he was the person to go to to sort out every problem. Over many years he got inside my head and he created my world and he stole my childhood. I thought I was special.
‘I didn't really even realise I was being abused. I know that may sound hard to believe.
‘He has been emotionally abusing me ever since. He dragged me through the legal system for the last four years. All along he denied that he had done anything wrong. Michael Byrne's abuse will ensure that I will never be the person I could have been. Whatever sentence is imposed on this man, he should realise that he has imposed a sentence on me that I will continue to serve until the day I die.
‘I made this complaint, not out of vindictiveness or revenge but for justice and accountability; I am a victim, I am innocent, I have been wronged.
‘Sexual abuse is a crime that thrives on secrecy and shame. For this reason my family decided to allow our identity to be made public. Hopefully my actions will encourage other victims to come forward.
‘I needed to stand in a public place, look Michael Byrne in the eyes and speak my truth: the truth of how he manipulated, groomed and violated me: the truth of how his crimes have affected every aspect of my life and how it has shaped and moulded me to experience years of self doubt, self degradation, depression, and disconnection from myself and others.'
He said the effect on his wife Mary and children Katie and David has been ‘catastrophic. I would not be here today without their love, support, strength and courage.' He also thanked Detective Paul Comiskey and his family for their support.
Speaking after Byrne was sentenced, Mr Walsh said it had been an ‘unbelievably difficult and exhausting journey' with the case coming before the court 17 times.
He also said questions need to be asked as to how Byrne was allowed unsupervised access to young innocent children after his conviction for sexual offences and how he was able to get employment in various schools after that conviction.
Cormac and Mary Walsh at Bray Court.