A stepfather, who sexually abused both his stepdaughters has been jailed for 6.5 years, with 18 months of his original 8 year sentence suspended. Mr John Joe Patterson, originally from Cashel in Co Tipperary, stood accused of the sexual abuse of his stepdaughters, over a 10-year period.
Emma and Vanessa Witherow both bravely waived their right to anonymity to allow that their stepfather, aged 55, a former bus driver, milk man, who also ran a Christmas hamper delivery business, be named publicly in the media.
With a current address at Kilclooney, Moyne, Templetuohy, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, Mr Patterson had previously denied some 39 counts of sexual assault on his stepdaughter Emma, which it was claimed began when she was aged just nine years.
Mr Patterson did plead guilty to one of three counts of sexually abusing her sister Vanessa, who was also nine years old when she claimed her abuse began. In an attempt to evade her stepfather’s advances, Emma Witherow felt the need to leave the family home at the age of 18, taking her sister Vanessa, then aged just 13 years, with her.
Today in Nenagh Circuit Court, Judge John Hannan stated that the Patterson case represented “the dark underbelly of Irish family life”. He stated that Mr Patterson had “destroyed” both his stepdaughters childhoods and any future ongoing relationship held between their brothers, and their birth mother.
Mrs Francis Patterson, who is the girls’ birth mother, sat through five weeks of evidence at Mr Patterson trial and continues to stand by her husband.
Earlier this year a jury of his peers unanimously found Mr Patterson guilty on 39 counts of sexual assault. His name will now be added to the Register of Sexual Offenders.