A Dublin man who sexually assaulted his teenage daughter, leading her to feel like her "soul has been ripped out", has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.
The man (48), who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, pleaded guilty to the sexual assault of his daughter at his then address in Dublin in December, 2018. He has no previous convictions.
In her victim impact statement, which was read before the court by the prosecuting garda, the victim said she has a “constant fear” all day every day that something will go wrong. She said she does not feel safe in her bedroom or her house.
The victim said she feels like her “soul has been ripped out over and over”. She said her heart “will never mend”.
She said she had constant nightmares about seeing her father in court when he smiled at her like he had done nothing wrong. She said these events were “truly eating me up inside”.
Passing sentence on Friday, Judge Melanie Greally said the complainant had described in "vivid detail" the "psychological and emotional damage done to her, including extreme isolation from her social group, loss of trust, insecurity and emptiness".
“The family unit has been irreparably damaged as a result of this extreme violation and breach of trust on his part,” the judge said.
Judge Greally sentenced the man to three years’ imprisonment and suspended the final six months on a number of conditions.
At a previous sentencing hearing, a local garda told Fionnuala O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, that shortly before the offending, the accused man had moved back into the family home and was living in a spare room. He and his wife had recently separated.
The victim was aged 15 in December 2018 when she disclosed to her mother that her father had touched her and they then reported the matter to gardaí.
The garda said that on December 10th of that year, the daughter came downstairs while her father was sitting on a sofa watching TV and he asked her to sit as he said he was lonely. The man then asked if she wanted a massage, which his daughter agreed to, but the man then unzipped her onesie pyjamas, put his hand under her bra and felt her chest.
The garda said on December 13th, the man asked if he could sit on the sofa with his daughter, then asked her to lie down and put her lead on his lap. He pulled down the zip of her onesie and proceeded to grope her, including putting his hands under her bra.
The court heard that whenever the victim questioned what her father was doing, he would respond by telling her to relax and saying it was just a massage.
The man’s younger daughter came into the room and the victim went upstairs. The man entered her bedroom, asked for a hug during which he squeezed her behind and then asked to give her another massage.
He again proceeded to grope her, including putting his hands under her bra and attempting to pull down her underwear. He also rubbed her private parts during the incident.
The incident came to an end when, after he tried to peel her bra down and lick her chest, the victim asked what he was doing and said she needed to study. The accused man left the room and the victim became very upset and told her mother.
The garda agreed with Fiona Murphy SC, defending, that the guilty plea was of value as it would have been “incredibly traumatic” for the teenager to undergo cross-examination.
He agreed with counsel that the man has had no contact with his daughters since the offences. The court heard the man attended his GP in relation to mental health issues and was an in-patient between December 15th and 24th.
Ms Murphy said her very clear instructions were to set out her client's "genuine remorse" and offer a genuine apology "for what it is worth".
Counsel said her client has no recollection of the incidents, but fully accepts his daughter’s account. She said her client was suffering from various mental health issues at the time.
She said her client retrained in counselling and has worked with the Salvation Army and with homeless people, but that work could no longer continue as a result of the charges before the court.
Counsel said her client is living with his parents and assisting them. She said her client was in a relationship with a woman who was in court to show her support.