Man who sexually abused daughter (15) given four year sentence

Father claimed he mistook teenager for his partner as they had an afternoon nap

 

A man who sexually assaulted his 15-year-old daughter while she was napping in the bed he shared with his partner has been sentenced to four years in prison with the final 18 months suspended.

The 37-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the anonymity of his daughter, was convicted by a Dublin Circuit Criminal Court jury of sexually assaulting the girl as she and her younger sister took an afternoon nap with him before a trip to the cinema.

He had pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault at an address in Dublin, on July 26th, 2015. It was the second time the case had gone to trial.

The court heard at an earlier hearing last July, that the man told gardaí that he was “groggy” when he went to bed with the two girls and mistook his daughter for his partner

At the previous hearing a victim impact report was read into the record by Karl Finnegan BL, prosecuting, in which the teenager stated that she had looked up to her father as a child.

“I thought he was smart but I now think of him as a stranger. He is separate from the Dad I looked up to,” the teenager said. She said she was jealous of her friends’ relationships with their fathers and wished she could have a good relationship with her father.

She said after the abuse she felt dirty, couldn’t sleep and found it hard to trust others.

“I have fond memories of my Dad that I try to hold onto. Once we were a happy family. I wanted my father to finally face the truth,” the girl said referring to the jury’s verdict.

On Monday Judge Martina Baxter described the victim as “an articulate and bright young woman” and said the offence represented the “most substantial and grave breach of trust”.

“She was vulnerable and she was a child. She was asleep in the bed he shared with his partner,” Judge Baxter said before she noted that the teenager had to testify twice and be cross-examined by his defence team on each occasion.

The judge said the man had both “a self-serving and self-pitying approach” to the case with “not much regard to the impact the offence had on his own daughter”.

“He was supposed to be her father and her protector,” Judge Baxter said before she added that the man has now acknowledged he was in the wrong, although “he had trouble accepting that previously”.

“He exploited her youth and innocence for his own gratification and acted in the most disgusting manner on a sleeping 15-year-old child,” Judge Baxter said before she suspended the final 18 months of a four year term.

She ordered that the man undergo 18 months Probation Service supervision upon his release from custody.

A local garda told Mr Finnegan, at the earlier hearing, that the victim and her younger sister, visited their father most Sundays after their parents had previously separated.

During the trial, the now 18-year-old girl told the jury, that on the day of the assault, she and her sister were in their father’s home and decided to go upstairs and “have a snooze” in a double bed he shared with his partner.

Shortly afterwards, their father got into the bed and lay between the girls, placing an arm around the complainant’s sister as they watched a documentary about mermaids on her phone together.

The victim told the jury that she was wearing leggings and a hoodie and was underneath the duvet. She told Mr Finnegan that she was very tired after having nightmares the previous night and fell asleep quickly.

When she awoke she realised her father’s hand was down her leggings and inside her underwear.

“He was groping my vagina a little bit so I sort of moved to try to let him know I was awake and he got out of the bed and left,” she said. She then went to the bathroom and phoned her boyfriend.

The court heard that the two girls then went to the cinema with their father and his partner.

“He bought us loads of popcorn but I couldn’t eat because my stomach was upset after what had happened,” she told Mr Finnegan.

The garda confirmed that the girl immediately reported the abuse to her mother and they went to the garda station to make a complaint. The man was arrested on August 1st, 2015.

The garda agreed with Blaise O’Carroll SC, defending, that his client has no previous convictions and has not come to garda attention since. Counsel handed in a large number of testimonials on behalf of his client.