The Criminal Courts of Justice
A Kilkenny man who raped and sexually abused his then partner's daughter at locations in the Midlands has been jailed for seven years.
The man (77) abused the child over a ten-year period while he was in a relationship with her mother, beginning when the child was aged around eight or nine. He cannot be named to protect the victim's anonymity,
The Central Criminal Court heard that the man abused her whenever her mother was out of the family home, including on one occasion when her mother was in the hospital.
The man was convicted following a trial in June 2021 of 72 counts, including counts of rape, oral rape, anal rape and sexual assault at locations in the Midlands on dates between May 17, 1991 and May 16, 2001. The man had pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The court heard that the trial judge directed the jury to return not (NOT) guilty verdicts on three counts of anal rape. The man has no previous convictions.
Passing sentence on Tuesday, November 30, Justice Paul McDermott said the aggravating factors in the case included the offences being committed against “a defenceless child” and the offences being committed in the family home, turning it into “a place of fear and trauma”.
Justice McDermott said the acts perpetrated on the victim left her with profound feelings of isolation from a young age. He said she clearly felt traumatised by the trial process.
The judge said the “continuous and persistent abuse of a child” takes the case into a high degree of seriousness. He set a headline sentence of 15 years for each rape offence.
He said the mitigating factors include that due to the man's age, every year spent in custody represents a substantial portion of his remaining years. He noted, however, that the man does not suffer from any life-threatening illnesses.
The judge said further mitigating factors were the man's lack of previous convictions, his having otherwise lived “a blameless life” and his support for his family.
Justice McDermott sentenced the man to 10 years imprisonment, but suspended the final three years of the sentence on strict conditions, including that he not contact the victim in any way and have no unsupervised access to children.
He said the reduction from the headline sentence and the suspension of a portion of the sentence were made because of the mitigating factors which he is obliged by law to consider. He said that normally a defendant in the man's position would be obliged to serve “a much greater sentence”.
In her victim impact statement, which she read before the court, the woman said that this abuse “has caused me torture and stress in my life”.
The woman said that from the time it started, she felt terrified and in shock. She said her childhood was taken away from her.
She said she could not work full-time as she never felt comfortable leaving her children with anyone other than her husband in case this might happen to them. She said that as a result of what happened, she no longer had a relationship with her mother.
The woman said she no longer feels the shame that came with the offences as she knows now it was not her fault and it should never have happened.
She said that now that “this horrible abuse” has been acknowledged, she can finally breathe and live her life as she should always have been able to live it.
In a previous sentencing hearing, a local garda told John Fitzgerald SC, prosecuting, that the abuse began when the victim was aged eight or nine and occurred when she was left alone in the home with the accused man.
The garda said the man began abusing her by touching her vagina over her clothes, before progressing to touching her under her clothes. He began raping and orally raping her when she was around 12 years old.
The victim described the abuse as happening on a regular basis, with the man abusing her any opportunity he got.
The abuse continued after her mother went to live with the man and she began attending a boarding school. He abused her during visits home from the school and would also offer to drive her back to school, only to bring her to a caravan and abuse her there.
During this time beginning when she was aged around 15, the man also anally raped the victim on several occasions. The victim would try to push the man away, but he would force himself upon her during the instances of rape, the court heard.
The victim recalls that the abuse came to an end when she was aged 17. She first disclosed the abuse to her husband around 2008 or 2009, ultimately making a complaint to gardaí in 2015.
In interview with gardaí, the man denied the allegations. In his evidence during the trial he again denied the offences and claimed he had very little involvement with the victim when she was growing up.
The garda agreed with Ronan Munro SC, defending, that his client's relationship with the victim's mother ended at around the time of the victim's Leaving Certificate. He agreed the man has not attempted to contact the victim since around that time.
He agreed with counsel that his client has no other investigations pending and has worked all his life. He agreed that the man's son and daughter-in-law were in court and that notwithstanding the convictions, the man has maintained a relationship with his family.
Mr Munro said the offences speak for themselves and are “inherently violent”, but that other cases feature additional violence which is absent in this case.
Counsel said his client's physical health and cognitive abilities are in decline. He said that given the small number of years his client has left, the sentence is likely to have added impact.
He said his client maintains his pleas of not guilty.
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