A father-of-five who raped his partner's six-month old baby niece and subjected her to a “violent and degrading sexual assault” has been jailed for 16 years.
The 59-year-old Tipperary man recorded himself abusing the baby and also secretly recorded four other girls when they used the bathroom.
Sentencing the man on Friday, Mr Justice Alexander Owens said the man's offending involved “acting out violent fantasies of having sex with very young children” which was “highly exploitative”.
The offending took place over the course of seven months up to August 2019. The man cannot be named in order to protect the identities of the victims.
The judge said that while it was open to him to impose a life sentence on the man, he considered a very long custodial sentence would be more proportionate. He handed down a sentence of 18 years but suspended the final two years on a number of conditions.
He also ordered the man to undergo six years of post-release supervision, which the judge said was “necessary for the protection of the public”.
In relation to the abuse of the baby, the judge said the man “subjected her to a violent and degrading sexual assault which caused her great distress at the time”. He said the assault was “violent” and “brutal”.
In relation to the older children, the judge said the children had looked up to the man and he had engaged in a serious breach of trust. He noted that all of the man's victims may be told about the abuse in the future and suffer psychologically as a result.
A local detective previously told Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, that an anonymous envelope was delivered to a garda station on August 14, 2019, which contained an SD or memory card and a handwritten note.
The handwritten note outlined that the memory card contained a clip of an infant being sexually abused by the accused man and asked gardai to arrest "this monster".
The detective testified that an examination of the memory card revealed 20 video clips, each lasting three minutes, of female adults and female children using a toilet in a bathroom in the accused's home.
The Central Criminal Court heard that four of the video files showed four girls individually using the toilet with their genitals were exposed. The defendant could be seen coming into the bathroom and fixing the position of the camera in the majority of the clips.
The court heard that the accused man was in a relationship with a woman since 2012 and the couple would mind her nieces from time to time in the defendant's flat.
The woman told gardai that she would occasionally leave the man alone with the young children if she was going to the shops and said she was unaware of events that had taken place. She said the accused had a "pattern" of checking whether the toilet was clean before the children used it.
The witness said that three explicit video files had shown the defendant masturbating on the six-month-old infant as she lay in her pram, while another video showed him placing the baby's hands on his genital area and performing oral sex on her.
The baby could be heard screaming, making choking noises and crying "intensely" in the videos, the detective said.
The man pleaded guilty last year to two counts of oral rape, one count of attempted oral rape and five counts of sexual assault of the then six-month-old baby.
He also pleaded guilty to five counts of production of child pornography of the baby and the four older children. He further pleaded guilty to four counts of possession of child pornography at his home in the midlands on dates from February to August 2019.
In an emotional victim impact statement, one mother said she was introduced to the accused man seven years ago and welcomed him into their family home.
She said she could not believe that the man had done "such horrific things" to her daughters and was grateful that they are young enough to move on with their lives.
She said she no longer leaves her children with anyone and knows that she will have to explain to them what happened some day. "He is a monster and is where he should be today," she said.
Another mother told the court in her statement that she had trusted the accused and thought he had her children's best interests at heart. "In my worst nightmare I could never have imagined it. I find now that when I need to use the bathroom I'm scanning it to make sure me or the children are not being recorded," she said.
Colman Cody SC, defending, said that the level of criminality was impossible to comprehend and the aggravating factors included the disparity in ages between his client and the victims as well as the breach of trust.
"There was a degree of planning employed by him and the recording of these incidences provided him with a source of gratification," he said.
Counsel said it was quite obvious that the victims do not have any knowledge of what had happened and the harm caused seemed to be "at a minimum, or relatively non-existent".
In mitigation, Mr Cody said his client became addicted to cocaine and it had become a destabilising factor in his life. He said his client accepted that he would receive a serious custodial sentence for the offences.
Mr Justice Owens said he did not accept that the man's drug-taking was a mitigating factor. He said the man's general character was “indifferent” and he appeared to have little insight or understanding of the impact of his crimes on his victims.
He imposed a number of post-release conditions on the man, including that he complete all available sex offender treatment programmes and not have any children under the age of 18 in his care.
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