Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cynthia Owen :Child Sex Abuse Results In Sisters Suicide

A woman hung herself as a direct result of sexual abuse during her childhood in Co Dublin, an inquest heard tonight.

The body of Theresa Murphy – a sister of Cynthia Owen who has claimed to be the victim of sexual abuse in her childhood – was discovered on February 24, 2005.

Ms Murphy’s best friend, Kevin Harran, said the 33-year-old’s suicide at the apartment she rented in Cabra Park in Dublin’s Phibsborough was without a doubt directly linked to the sexual abuse she had suffered.

“I knew her 11 years – one day she would be fine the next day she would be like that,” he said. “It (sexual abuse) was mentioned many times.”

Mr Harron said that Ms Murphy had mentioned that she used to run away from her home to her sister Cynthia Owen, who was 10 years older than her.

Ms Owen, who had moved to England, saw her sister for the first time in nine years last February. Ms Owen recently told the Dublin County Coroner’s Court she was the mother of a baby girl discovered stabbed to death in a lane in Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin, in 1973.

The woman, who is now in her forties, has claimed the baby was one of two she gave birth to as a young teenager as a result of sexual abuse during the 1970s in Co Dublin.

Of her sister, Ms Owen said: “She was very distressed and told me she was suicidal as a result of sexual abuse as a child.

“She was battling sexual abuse all her life, she couldn’t hold down a job because of it.”

The packed Dublin City Coroner’s Court heard during her life Ms Murphy had suffered flashbacks and nightmares.

“She felt angry and cheated as the person who had abused her had not been made pay,” Ms Owen said.

Ms Owen said her sister felt she could not cope after another brother’s body, who had also been sexually abused, was found. She had also spoke of another brother who had died in 1995.

Ms Owen said: “She told me I was wasting my time and I wouldn’t get justice.”

The inquest heard Ms Murphy said she had lost all faith in life and felt no-one cared.

“She felt the only peace she would get was to end her life,” Ms Owen said.

Dr Teresa Coll, who was Ms Murphy’s GP, said she was distressed she had lost two brothers at such young ages and meeting her sister again had meant a lot to her.

The doctor said she was concerned at betraying Ms Murphy’s confidence but she had heard further details about the sexual abuse that were not revealed in court.

Landlord, Harry Shannon, said he had become concerned about Ms Murphy after she failed to answer the door to him. The inquest heard he alerted the fire brigade on February 24, 2005 after he pushed open the door and saw a leg behind it.

The court heard a rope attached to Ms Murphy’s body was cut down from behind the door and the pathologist found Ms Murphy had died from asphyxiation due to hanging.

Sgt Declan Healy from Mountjoy Garda Station said a lengthy 33-page letter addressed o Ms Owen was found at the scene.

“It explained the pain the deceased was in around the time of her death,” he said.

He added: “She was abused as a young person. During the course of life to get away from that she had to leave the family home. She referred to suffering because of it the rest of her life.”

Gerry Dunne, a solicitor for Ms Owen, said: “You have heard it mentioned in each instance – sexual abuse in the past.”

Mr Dunne said he understood due to legal restrictions any aspect of criminal liability could not be brought up.

“She was a beautiful young lady and it was an absolute tragedy that she ended up taking her own life,” he said.

Mr Dunne appealed for Ms Murphy’s letter to be read out in court as she had wanted her voice to be heard.

“This is a lifelong psychological problem they inflict on their victims,” Mr Dunne said, calling upon the coroner to warn perpetrators of the dreadful consequences of abuse.

Mr Dunne said that a cousin of Ms Murphy’s, who was also in court, wanted to say that the person who had abused Ms Murphy had also abused her.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell, who passed a verdict of death by suicide, said he sympathised with the family but could not go into it for legal reasons.
“I don’t think I have ever seen so many friends in court at one time,” he said. “I can see she was an extremely popular person and loved by many people.

“Theresa is at peace now but the rest of you are all left with the sorrow and tragedy of her death.”

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