A man who raped and abused his daughter for 16 years has been sentenced to 12 years in prison, with 18 months suspended.
The 62-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, began molesting his daughter when she was seven. He went on to repeatedly and regularly molest and orally rape her for the next 16 years.
The man pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape, oral rape, indecent assault, sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault on various dates between 1990 and 2006. Most of the offending took place in the family home in Dublin city.
The guilty pleas to nine charges were sample counts out of 54 charges and the aggravated sexual assault involved the defendant using an electric sander to molest his terrified daughter.
The man’s lawyers told the court that his wife and other children were standing by him. In one character reference his son in law described the man as otherwise “a fantastic father”.
On Tuesday, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said that the aggravating factors in the case included the appalling humiliation and degradation of the victim, the defendant’s continued and persistent manipulation of his daughter and the complete breach of trust.
He also noted that the abuse and the isolation and focus by the defendant on the victim and her life completely distorted her childhood. He said the case was in the most serious category of sexual offending and rape and set a headline sentence of 16 years for the rape offences, seven years for the sexual assault and 10 years for the aggravated sexual assaults.
He cited as mitigating factors the pleas of guilty, the otherwise offence-free life and the expressions of remorse. In relation to the latter he noted the psychological assessment that the defendant has shown very little insight into the damage done to his daughter and that “his acceptance is slow and still evolving”.
Taking this mitigation into consideration he reduced the headline sentences to 12 years, five and a half and eight years for the rape, sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault offences respectively.
He said that in order to encourage rehabilitation he was suspending the last 18 months on condition that the defendant engage in victim focused programmes, have no unsupervised access to children and have no contact directly or indirectly with the victim.
At a sentence hearing last week, a detective garda told Fiona Murphy SC, prosecuting, that the complainant went to gardaí in July 2016 and outlined the extent of the abuse she endured.
She described playing with her Barbie dolls before her father would come to her and sexually assault her while masturbating himself. She said she remembers that “it was sore, she hated it, she knew it was wrong”.
She said that she was aged seven when her father first orally raped her. He repeated this assault again and again. He used a dictaphone to record audio of the assaults and told her he would later edit the recordings to make it sound more like she was enjoying them.
When she was 18 years old, he forced her to strip and pose for sexually explicit photos which he told her he was going to use for an art project. He showed her the images and she said she was disgusted looking at them.
The girl was aged 12 when her younger sister was born and the abuse got worse then because her father lost his job and was at home minding the child while her mother worked at night.
He began raping her then up to four times a week. He often recorded these assaults using the dictaphone, the court heard.
During a holiday in the Costa del Sol in Spain he orally raped her. She was 15 years old.
Ms Murphy outlined one incident where the man used an electric sander to sexually assault the child. In another he wrapped a phone cable around her neck and she was trying to scream as it was hurting her.
The woman described to gardaí her father often calling her in from playing with her friends and she said she always knew it was in order to abuse her.
She said her father told her that all her friends “had a special relationship with their father” and were also being abused, and told her not to talk about it to them. She said she thought he was doing what he was doing to protect her because that is what fathers were supposed to do.
John Fitzgerald SC, defending, said that the man’s wife and other children were standing by him. He handed in a number of character references including one which described him as “a fantastic father”.
He said he accepted these statements were hard to reconcile with the evidence of offending. He said his client’s childhood was characterised by violence in the family home and sexual abuse outside.
“Having come from a cold abusive background he seemed to have been in position to provide support for wife and other children, with the obvious exception of his daughter. Their support remains available to him,” counsel said.
He said that after the abuse came to light, his client went into counselling and his family have described this as making a difference. A forensic psychological report placed him at a very low risk of reoffending while noting a limit to his insight into his offending.
“He had difficulty acknowledging the extent and frequency of abuse. He accepts he has poor insight and has expressed a wish to get a better understanding,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
He asked Mr Justice McDermott to take into consideration a “history of vulnerability and isolation and emotional detachment”.
The court heard that the victim is having a very hard time at present and that she was not able to come to court and sit through the evidence.
In a victim impact statement, read out in court, she said she was mentally, emotionally and physically tortured by her abuser.
She said that he was supposed to value her as a human being, but instead he used her.
“I was made to feel ashamed,” she said. She said she cannot understand how her family could accept his actions.
The court heard that when she texted her mother in 2013 about the abuse, her mother replied: “I can’t believe that happened. I love you loads, and fully support you.”
Ms Murphy told the court that this “was the extent of the support” given to her.