Man who raped girls in Athlone gets two life sentences
Mr Justice Carney said yesterday he found it too upsetting to recite the facts of the case
The scene outside Longford Court House last October when a 30-year-old man was charged with serious sexual assult on two young girls in Athlone. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
A man who lured two young girls from a children’s birthday party and told them he would cut their parents’ throats before repeatedly raping them has been given two life sentences for the separate offences against each of the children.
The 30-year-old man led the six- and nine-year-old girls away from an outside area where they were playing and repeatedly forced them to submit to an ordeal of sexual abuse and rape.
The girls escaped through a window in the ground-floor flat. They ran back to their parents who had noticed the girls were missing from the party and were out looking for them.
The man pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three counts of rape of the nine-year-old and two counts of rape of the six-year-old girl at an address in Co Westmeath on September 28th, 2013.
Sentencing the man yesterday to life, Mr Justice Paul Carney said he found it too upsetting to recite the facts of the case.
“A feature of this case was to observe the faces of the hard-boiled press corps having difficulty listening to the facts emerging.”
He said it was too serious a case for any discount in sentence to come from the defendant’s co-operation with gardaí after his arrest or from his early plea of guilty.
After sentence was passed the convicted man asked to apologise to the victims.
His previous convictions include criminal damage, assault, robbery and possession of knives. He had just been released from Castlerea prison three days before the offences.
In a plea for mitigation, Martin Giblin SC, defending, said the defendant had a difficult family background and his father had abandoned him when he was six.
He said that in an extensive medical history that took place as a result of contact with psychological services there was “not a trace or scintilla of evidence of any form of paedophilia in his medical records”.
Before sentencing, Patrick McGrath SC, for the State, told the court that this was a case involving young victims and that “reporting restrictions should apply”. The victims cannot be identified.
He said the families of the victims had a “deep concern” that naming the accused man might identify the victims.
Insp Aidan Minnock told Patrick McGrath SC, prosecuting, that the man told the girls that he had a six-year-old girl in his flat who was too shy to come out to play.
The girls were playing on an area close to a house in which their families were attending another child’s birthday party at about 4pm.
The two girls told specialist child interviewers that they were playing on a tree and had not eaten any cake yet. They noticed the man looking at them and one girl said later that she thought he was planning his attack.
The man approached them and asked if they wanted to meet a six-year-old girl in his flat. He told them: “She is a bit shy now, come on, come on.”
One girl told gardaí: “It’s like as if we were lured in.”
Once inside the man trapped them and took their clothes off and also undressed himself.He told them: “Ditch, take them off or I will cut your parents’ throat open and then cut yours.”
When the younger girl began to cry he told her to shut up and slapped her face. He told her again if she opened her mouth he would cut her mum’s and dad’s throats. She told gardaí this made her feel very sad because she did not want him to cut their throats.
He then raped the older girl a number of times on a mattress on the floor. He next raped the younger victim before finally raping the older girl again.
After he was finished with them the man let the children put their clothes back on but not their shoes. He told them to lie down on the floor for 20 minutes and he left the room.
The older girl opened a window and the pair climbed through.
Both girls were taken to hospital where they had to get injections against Aids and hepatitis C. The father of the six-year-old said that having to make this decision to give her this treatment and “poison” his daughter was one of the hardest decision of his life.
The accused was identified by one of the girls shortly after the attack and detained by relatives of the victims. He was arrested and initially denied the attacks.
On a fifth Garda interview he admitted everything and told gardaí he had been drinking cider and vodka since seven that morning and had taken Valium tablets. A local priest had given him €10 that morning for food but he had used it to buy cider.
In her victim impact statement, the mother of the nine-year-old said since the attack she was living a nightmare she could not wake up from.
The mother said the man “made a cold predatory decision to rape my daughter. He made her believe in her little heart that she would die if she didn’t comply. He gratified himself on the body of an innocent child.”
She said she lies awake at night tormented by unbearable images and that she imagines hearing her child’s heart beating in fear. Her daughter had gone from being a happy, exuberant child to a worried reserved person who does not feel safe any more.
The father of the youngest victim sobbed while reading his victim impact statement in which he said that hearing his child first tell him what the man had done to her was “like a bomb going off in his head”.
He said his daughter had repeatedly asked him why the accused did what he did.
Freezes or panics
He said she freezes or panics when she sees “creepy men everywhere, everyday” and refused to be on her own at any time, including at night.
In a poem he wrote and read out in court he asked: “What can a Daddy do to protect this princess beauty? Are we lost to evil?”