A Limerick man who was “obsessed” with his partner’s young daughter has been jailed for 11 years for raping and sexually abusing her.
Liam O’Dwyer (45) of Capparoe, Adare, Co Limerick, was convicted of eight charges of sexual assault, four sample charges of rape and one of oral rape after a retrial last year.
He had denied these charges, which took place in his then partner’s bedroom between October 1996 and December 2001 when the girl was aged from 12 to 17 years.
Counsel for the prosecution told the Central Criminal Court that while the woman does not want to waive her right to anonymity, she did want O’Dwyer’s name to be published.
Sergeant Brendan Casey said some of the victim's family gave evidence at the trial that O'Dwyer seemed obsessed with her and always wanted to know where she was.
One family member said she had felt “most uncomfortable” with the way O’Dwyer looked at the girl, but parked the issue as nobody else raised it.
Other family members revealed that O’Dwyer rang their house up to four times a day when the girl came to visit them at one stage. They said she would often cry after the phone conversations but told them it was because she was missing her mother.
These witnesses described the girl at that time as “very withdrawn” and not like a normal teenager. The sergeant said that, years later, the young woman’s life spiralled out of control and she got involved with the wrong people and began to abuse drugs.
She finally made her statement to gardaí in 2014 about the childhood abuse.
The woman read her victim impact statement in court and asked the judge to think of her and her life when passing sentence. She described how she is still recovering from the ways the abuse and exploitation has hurt her through her teenage years and into adulthood.
‘Groomed into submission’
She said she now lives her life in fear that someone will hurt her physically and psychologically and that she had pushed out her feelings and trauma.
The woman described how her drug addiction brought her to a place she never wants to return to. She said it was “like going into a boxing match every day knowing I was going to lose but putting myself through it regardless”. She said she experiences flashbacks, nightmares and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mr Justice Paul McDermott said the woman was “groomed into submission” by O’Dwyer who was in a position of trust. He noted O’Dwyer continues to deny the charges and has expressed no remorse.
He jailed O’Dwyer for 11 years and ordered that he undergo three years post-release supervision to protect the public and prevent future sexual offending.
The court heard O’Dwyer began the abuse through sexual touching. He would go to bed early and call the girl upstairs to scratch his back with a shower brush.
Sgt Casey said this progressed to getting the girl to lie beside him and he would rub up against her and touch her sexually inside and outside her clothes.
Around the time of her 12th birthday, the abuse escalated to rape. During the trial, the woman told the jury she could not count the number of occasions this happened as it had been so often.
She recalled that on one occasion O’Dwyer brought her by car to a location where he forced her to perform oral sex on him until he ejaculated. He discovered a photo of the woman’s then boyfriend in her wallet when she was about 17 years old and punched her in the arms, chest and ear.
She attended a doctor with her mother but denied there was any background of sexual abuse when asked. She told the jury she had been too afraid to tell as O’Dwyer had been so controlling.
The court heard he has six previous convictions, including this assault and false imprisonment and breaching a barring order relating to the girl’s mother.
The sergeant agreed with Mark Nicholas SC, defending, that O’Dwyer had a long history of work.
Mr Nicholas submitted to Mr Justice McDermott that O’Dwyer’s current partner stands by him and that he maintains his position of innocence.