Retired solider jailed for rape and abuse of his daughters

Judge says it is hard to describe ‘each new outrage’ Jerry O’Keeffe inflicted on his victims

Melissa O’Keeffe (left) and her sister Amy Barrett leave court after their father, Jerry O’Keeffe (69) received a 10 year jail term at the Central Criminal Court for offences including rape, indecent assault and sexual assault. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Melissa O’Keeffe (left) and her sister Amy Barrett leave court after their father, Jerry O’Keeffe (69) received a 10 year jail term at the Central Criminal Court for offences including rape, indecent assault and sexual assault. Photograph: Collins Courts.

 

A retired soldier who raped his daughter and regularly abused another daughter has been jailed for 10 years.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said Jerry O’Keeffe’s crimes brought about the destruction of his daughters’ childhoods. “It is hard to find words to describe each new outrage inflicted on these children,” he said.

O’Keeffe (68), of Oakhill, Youghal, Co Cork, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three charges of rape, five of indecent assault and one of sexual assault. These were nine sample charges out of a total of 78 covering a period from January 1980 to March 1987.Both women waived their right to anonymity in the case.

In her victim impact statement Amy Barrett, O’Keeffe’s eldest daughter, described her childhood as very traumatic, and said she was “a mixed bag of confusion and terror” as a result of her father’s crimes.

Previously the court heard the three charges of rape and two charges of indecent assault related to Ms Barrett. The offence happened in the family home at The Arch, Youghal, Co Cork.

Mr Justice McCarthy said O’Keeffe’s raping of Ms Barrett, which began when she was eight years old, was a commonplace event and amounted to repeated, extremely serious abuse.The abuse ended in 1985 when Ms Barrett was 12.

He said the assaults against Melissa O’Keeffe, which began when she was 11, were also extremely serious. These incidents took place when the family lived at Catherine’s Street in Youghal. O’Keeffe would go into the child’s bedroom late at night after returning from the pub and molest her in her bed.

No further action

The sisters reported the abuse to the Southern Health Board in 1999 after attending the Rape Crisis Centre in Cork. As a result O’Keeffe agreed to leave the family home and no further action was taken against him.

Ms O’Keefe said she went to gardaí­ in 1999 but withdrew the allegations after her parents confronted her. Both victims reported the matter to gardaí­ again in October 2014.

The judge said the women’s experiences were best surmised by Ms Barrett’s statement that she loved and trusted her dad, and he in turn had betrayed that trust.

Mr Justice McCarthy said O’Keeffe’s guilty plea must be taken into account in mitigation, but he said the plea came “not at the eleventh hour but at five minutes to midnight” after legal proceedings had commenced. Referring to O’Keefe’s age, he said “these days 68 is no great age” and that it would not count towards mitigation of his sentence.

He said this case merited consecutive sentences relating to each daughter. He said the appropriate total period of imprisonment in this case should be 10 years. He imposed a seven year sentence for the rape offences and a three year term of imprisonment for the sexual assaults, to run consecutively. He instructed that O’Keeffe’s name be added to the sex offenders register and said he must liaise with the probation services for three years following his release.

In her victim impact statement, Ms O’Keefe described how she resisted calling out for her mother in case she got into trouble. “I went to gardaí­ to make a complaint in 1999 but my parents confronted me so I had to lie and say I made it all up,” she said.

Speaking outside the court, Ms Barrett said she and Ms O’Keeffe were happy with the sentence but also sad as O’Keeffe is still their father.

“It’s almost like we’re in mourning for him now,” she said. “It was never about the sentence it was always about an admission of guilt, keeping him away from other kids, and getting closure for ourselves.”