An 84-year-old taxi driver who sexually abused his adopted daughter over a ten-year period has been jailed for three and half years.
John Walker, described by his daughter as "an evil man, a dangerous man", was found guilty by a jury of 40 counts of indecently and sexually assaulting her over a ten-year period between 1990 and 2000, when she was aged between eight and 17 years old.
Jennifer Kelly waived her right to anonymity allowing her father to be named in reporting the case.
It took the jury just over two hours to return unanimous guilty verdicts on all counts following a trial in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court last month.
In an emotional victim impact statement read out in court this week, Ms Kelly, said he had “no regard, no remorse, no humanity”.
“I was your child - your little girl - and you manipulated and abused me for your own gratification,” she said. “You were my dad but you are an evil man, a dangerous man.”
Ms Kelly said the memories of what her father did to her could never be erased from her mind.
“I am a victim of ten years of unrelenting sexual and emotional abuse at the hands of you, my father. The person who was supposed to protect me from the monsters was the monster.”
Walker, with an address in The Cova, Whitehall Road, Perrystown, Dublin pleaded not guilty to indecently and sexually assaulting his daughter at his home address and their previous home address at Kilmasogue Grove, Greenpark between June 1990 and April 2000. He has no previous convictions and maintains his innocence.
Sentencing him on Wednesday, Judge Patricia Ryan said she was taking into account the "very considerable harm done" and the fact that the abuse was pre-meditated and planned over a 10 year period.
She said threats were made by him to her “suggesting he knew people in high places” and that he “preyed on the vulnerability of an eight year old”.
Judge Ryan said his behaviour was “a grave abuse of trust, was predatory in nature” and Walker had shown no remorse.
The judge said she was taking into account the fact that Walker had no previous convictions, had contributed positively to society in the past, his medical conditions and his age before she sentenced him to three and half years in prison.
The court heard the abuse took the form of Walker repeatedly kissing and fondling his daughter when they were alone.
He called her a “slut” and on another occasion he threatened to throw her into the Liffey if she told anyone what was happening. He repeatedly told her no-one would believe her and that he would say she had started it.
The abuse ended when Ms Kelly confided in her brother’s partner on the night of her mother’s funeral in April 2000. She left the family home the following day with her brother. She disclosed the abuse to gardaí in February 2018.
Kathleen Leader SC, defending, said her client was a taxi driver for 47 years and he was supported by several of his fellow taxi drivers in court. She handed in a letter of testimonial from the Irish Taxi Driver’s Federation.
Ms Leader said Walker was involved in a number of charities, had been a local soccer referee and was a member of the community choir.
He suffers from a number of health issues, including osteo-arthritis, renal failure, high blood pressure and anaemia. He is in remission from prostate cancer.
Ms Leader maintained that the sexual abuse in question was limited to “kissing and fondling over clothes”. “This is not something at the upper end of the scale,” she said.
Frozen in fear
Inspector Jason Miley told Monika Leech BL, prosecuting, that the abuse started shortly after Ms Kelly’s eighth birthday when she was in the bath. Walker came in and gave her a “lingering kiss” which his daughter said she found “strange”.
When Walker asked her if she liked it, the little girl said yes because she didn’t want to upset him.
The abuse escalated over time, with no set pattern, the court heard. Walker would often go into his daughter’s room at night and kiss and fondle her. He ensured she got a double bed when she was nine, so they would have “more room for cuddles”. He put a lock on her bedroom door.
As she grew older, Walker’s behaviour became more threatening and controlling, the court heard. “She was very afraid of him,” Ms Leech said.
Ms Kelly grew to hate Wednesday afternoons as her mother worked those days and she was alone in the house with her father. She recalled one afternoon when he was “perspiring and gyrating” on top of her for between 15 and 20 minutes, while she was frozen in fear.
As she entered her late teens, he started to discuss getting a hotel room alone with her, leaving her fearful that the abuse was going to escalate. On one occasion, out of desperation, she told him she would like to be with him too.
He got angry and said, “That’s disgusting, you’re my daughter,” the court heard.
After Ms Kelly disclosed the abuse to her family members and left the family home, she returned on two occasions to confront her father. The first time he asked if she was wearing a wire. The second time, he tried to shake her hand and he said sorry, the court heard.
When arrested last year, Walker denied any abuse had ever taken place. He said his daughter was a “lovely and beautiful person” and he said he didn’t know why she was making the allegations.