Judge expresses regret to victim and revokes rapist's bail
The man convicted of raping his daughter over a 10-year period was sent to jail yesterday when Mr Justice Paul Carney revoked bail.
The judge told rape victim Fiona Doyle at the Central Criminal Court that he wanted to express his “profound regret for the distress caused to her in this case”.
Ms Doyle’s father Patrick O’Brien (72) walked out of court on Monday after the judge released him on bail pending an appeal to a prison sentence of 12 years, with nine suspended.
O’Brien sat at the back of the courtroom yesterday, his wife at his side, with a packed bag at his feet.
His daughter, accompanied by her husband Jim and son Paddy, sat just metres away.
Yesterday Brendan Grehan (SC), prosecuting, submitted that the judge had been wrong to grant O’Brien leave to appeal, saying “intention to appeal was not a fact”.
Mr Grehan said: “Circumstances might change where an appeal was not made by the convicted person and that might lead to a difficulty.”
Mr Grehan also said there was no provision that allowed a trial court to certify a case as being fit for appeal, saying the trial court had “no jurisdiction” to do so.
Responding to Mr Grehan, Mr Justice Carney said he was “prepared to accept that this sentencing was dealt with in a procedurally confused manner, at the very least”.
However, he said the health of O’Brien, who was “on oxygen and under the care of nine consultants for very serious disorders”, when raised, had to be dealt with.
He said it was part of sentencing that the trial judge had not only to sentence with respect of the defence but also to sentence a particular offender, and matters found in favour of the accused had to be dealt with by the trial judge.
Having designed the sentence, the judge said he was concerned he might have given too much weight to O’Brien’s health.
Referring to the Court of Criminal Appeal, he said he had sought the immediate involvement of other judges and certified the case for appeal because he “wanted to get the involvement of other judges as quickly as possible”.
He said he was aware of the gravity of the case and in sentencing wanted to ensure “nobody could say the accused walked”, but he told the court that as it happened people were able to say that.
He said while he had in mind that “bail would be a short-term matter”, he accepted what he did was “inappropriate and something I shouldn’t have done”.
“It was insensitive and inappropriate and I have no hesitation in saying that,” he said.
He said he had adopted “a procedurally confused method” and “should have spelled out what I was endeavouring to do in greater detail”.
After revoking bail, he said the way was now clear for the DPP to appeal the leniency of the sentence or for the accused to say it was too severe.
O’Brien’s defence barrister, Mary Rose Gearty SC, told Mr Justice Carney she was instructed to ask the court to consider bail. The judge replied: “I refuse.”
Mr Justice Carney expressed to the victim his “profound regret for the distress caused to her in this case”.
Fiona Doyle watched her father being led away by gardaí to begin his three-year sentence. Her mother left the court alone. On the steps of the court, Ms Doyle said she felt “vindicated”. Asked if she accepted Judge Carney’s “apology”, she said “regret was the word” he had used, and she “accepted his regret”.
Of her father’s jail term, she said in his present health, three years “is a lifetime for him”.
“He might now feel the loneliness and the lack of support and the isolation that I have felt for over 40 years,” she said. “ I would just like to ask my dad, as a sign of remorse, not to appeal this three-year sentence.”
Asked if she felt the DPP should appeal the leniency of his sentence she said, “Whatever they decide, I will support, but I’m just happy that he is not going home today.”