Judge jails ‘sexual predator’ for raping girl in church grounds

Teenage victim later gave birth to child that DNA tests found was fathered by accused (37)

A Co Clare man who raped a 13-year-old girl has been  sentenced to more than nine years imprisonment. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times.

A Co Clare man who raped a 13-year-old girl has been sentenced to more than nine years imprisonment. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times.

 

A Co Clare man who raped a 13-year-old girl after chasing her in the grounds of a church was described by a judge as a “dangerous sexual predator” as he was sentenced to more than nine years imprisonment.

The Central Criminal Court heard the man continued to harass the child for years after the offence, telling her he had connections with gardaí­ and “could not be touched”.

The 37-year-old, who cannot be named to protect the victim’s identity, denied a single count of raping the girl on a date between June and August 2011. He was convicted after trial by jury earlier this year.

The complainant gave birth to a child when she was aged 16 and DNA testing proved the accused was the father. He subsequently pleaded guilty to defilement. The complainant has since told gardaí the defilement was coercive.

Passing sentence on Monday, Mr Justice Alexander Owens said he considered the man “a dangerous sexual predator” with a long history of previous sexual offending and noted he will be released while still a relatively young man.

Mr Justice Owens ordered that the man undergo a period of seven years’ post-release supervision on a number of strict conditions, including that he make no contact with anyone aged under 18 and abstain from loitering near any place where children congregate.

Ruined

In a victim impact statement read out on her behalf, the now 20-year-old complainant said the man had ruined her life.

“He took my childhood, my worth, my confidence, my friends, my family,” she wrote. “He took my privacy, my intimacy, my safety and my own voice.”

She said the attack continued to affect her relationship and that she felt she could never give her trust to her partner.

Garda Donal Corkery told Conor Devally SC, prosecuting, that the man had verbally abused the girl multiple times before the day he raped her and would call her a “whore” and a “prostitute” when she refused to “go for a spin” in his car.

Mr Devally said on the day in question, the girl was with friends when the accused arrived and started “roaring abuse” and raised his hand towards her.

The friends fled and the girl ran off trying to take a short cut home through church grounds. The accused chased her and caught her by the throat near a shrine, throwing her face down on the ground.

He took off her underwear and raped her, saying she was going to get “what she deserved”.

Garda

The girl ran home and passed her mother, now deceased, in the kitchen but was unable to speak to her. She later got a phone call from the accused on a private number, saying she could tell whoever she wanted but that he was related to a garda so he “could not be touched”.

The court heard the man continued to harass the girl with inappropriate sexualised messages for years although she repeatedly changed her mobile number.

Mr Devally said phone records investigated by gardaí­ showed coarse messages from the accused to the victim revelling in his memories of the rape which he described as “breaking her in” and referring to a level of violence of which he seemed proud.

The accused has 37 previous convictions of which 17 are for sexual offences, including the defilement charge. In 2004, he was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for these 17 charges of sexual assault and buggery committed against five different child victims aged between 10 and 14.