Couple jailed for female genital mutilation want girl re-examined

Pair apply for Court of Appeal hearing to assess whether procedure took place

A husband and wife who were jailed for subjecting their child to female genital mutilation (FGM) want the girl re-examined to assess whether the procedure actually happened.

Lawyers for the couple have applied to the three-judge Court of Appeal for a “directions hearing” where they will ask the court to order the examination to take place. The State is opposing the application and the court will hear arguments from both sides this Thursday, March 25th.

At a brief hearing on Monday morning, president of the court Mr Justice George Birmingham said the issue arose because there was "some disagreement between medical experts" regarding what actually happened to the girl. James McCullough, for one of the appellants, told the court that the defence are relying on photographs and recordings of various procedures which barristers acting for the couple say cast doubt on whether the girl was actually subjected to FGM.

The couple both pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of carrying out an act of FGM on a then one-year-old girl at an address in Dublin on September 16th, 2016.


The man and woman also pleaded not guilty to one count of child cruelty on the same day. They are both originally from an African nation but cannot be named to protect the identity of the child.

On the eighth day of the trial, the jury returned unanimous verdicts of guilty on all counts after almost three hours of deliberations.

Passing sentence in January 2020, Judge Elma Sheahan sentenced the man to 5½ years' imprisonment and the woman to four years and nine months imprisonment.

At an earlier sentencing hearing, Det Insp Dany Kelly told Shane Costelloe SC, prosecuting, that on the date in question, the accused man attended at a hospital with his daughter who was bleeding from her perineal region.

Det Insp Kelly said the accused man gave an explanation that the child had sustained the injury by falling backwards onto a toy. Medical professionals were of the view that this explanation was not credible and that the injuries were not accidental, counsel said.

Gardaí were notified and carried out a search of the accused’s family home. They seized the toy claimed to be responsible for inflicting the injury and no blood was found on the item following a forensic analysis.

Dr Sinéad Harty gave evidence during the trial that in her professional opinion, the injury sustained was not consistent with falling on a toy. She said the head and glans of the victim’s clitoris had been completely removed.

In interview with gardaí, both accused denied that FGM had been carried out on their daughter. The victim’s father said he did not agree with the practice. His wife said she had been a victim of a different form of FGM herself.