A violent and abusive father, who claimed he couldn't have orally raped his daughter because she didn't notice plastic implants in his penis, has appealed the severity of his sentence.
The 52-year-old was convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury of 22 counts of sexual abuse, oral rape, child sexual exploitation and attempted rape in the family's Dublin home on dates between October 2009 and July 2011, when the girl was aged between 13 and 15. He continues to deny sexually abusing his daughter but accepted before his trial that he had been physically abusive, particularly towards the girl's mother. He claimed that his daughter made up the allegations of sexual abuse in a bid for revenge.
On January 14, 2019, following conviction, Ms Justice Tara Burns sentenced him to 12 years in prison with the final six months suspended.
Last year the man, who cannot be named to protect his daughter's identity, lost an appeal against his conviction. His legal team had argued that the case was "truly exceptional" by reason of the inconsistency between the presence of visible implants in the man's penis and his daughter's evidence that there was nothing visible there at the time of the offences.
The Court of Appeal found that the obvious explanation was that the child, who was seeing a male adult penis for the first time in the stressful context of being abused, would not have known the difference between it and a penis which did not have such implants.
On Tuesday the man's barrister Giollaiosa O'Lideadha SC argued to the court that the 12-year sentence for attempted vaginal rape was excessive given that his client was sentenced to ten years, running concurrently, for the count of oral rape. Mr O'Lideadha said the "difference between the attempted vaginal penetration and the actual penetration of the mouth was not such to justify the disparity in sentence between the two."
He said the evidence was that his client stopped the attempted vaginal rape when his daughter screamed and pushed him away. Counsel said it is in the public interest that the sentencing judge recognise that he stopped and give some credit for it. He said the offence is still horrific but, "some comfort can be drawn from the fact there was no penetration of the vagina."
Mr O'Lideadha also submitted that the judge did not give sufficient weight to his client's apologies to his wife and daughter for the "violence and intimidation" he subjected them to in the family home. He said his client had also taken steps while in custody to overcome his problems with jealousy and alcoholism.
Dominic McGinn SC for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) said the trial judge had given good reasons for why she considered the attempted rape to be "particularly horrific" and therefore the more serious count. The difference in sentence is justified, counsel said, by the impact it had on the victim.
He pointed out that following the attempted rape the man told his daughter that she had "half lost her virginity".
He further argued that the apology has little weight because it only relates to violence in the family home. The appellant did not apologise for sexual wrongdoing and therefore, counsel said, his victim does not have the benefit of closure and the affirmation that comes with an acknowledgement that she is not "making it up".
President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham, sitting with Ms Justice Mary Rose Gearty and Mr Justice John Edwards, reserved judgement.
Passing sentence after the trial, Ms Justice Burns said the man had abused his daughter “for his own sexual gratification in the atmosphere of fear and power he exercised in the house”.
In a victim impact statement, the then 22-year-old woman told the Central Criminal Court that she felt like her father killed her inside. “I see his face and smile every time I look in the mirror. I look at myself and my body like I'm ashamed,” she said.
“I see my father's face and feel his breath when I get intimate with a man,” she continued.
The woman said she was not scared of her father any more and turned to face her father in court to tell him: “you made me feel I was worthless and you made me feel like it was my fault. You killed me inside and I will never forgive you for that.”
“You didn't feel guilty and you didn't feel any remorse to me or the woman you abused for 20 years. I am no longer the powerless girl I once was, I got the justice I finally deserved.” The court heard that the man physically abused the girl's mother for a number of years.
The man was arrested and interviewed in July 2014 but denied all the allegations. He claimed the girl had fabricated the story because of his physical abuse of her mother. He did not accept the jury's verdict and has not expressed any remorse.