Man (54) appeals severity of sentence for repeated rape of daughter

Father told gardaí he regarded child he sexually assulted over 12 year period as a ‘partner’ by night

A man sentenced to 15 years in prison for raping and sexually assaulting his daughter on a repeated basis over a 12-year period has appealed against the severity of his jail term at the Court of Appeal. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times.

A man sentenced to 15 years in prison for raping and sexually assaulting his daughter on a repeated basis over a 12-year period has appealed against the severity of his jail term at the Court of Appeal. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times.

 

A man sentenced to 15 years in prison for raping and sexually assaulting his daughter on a repeated basis over a 12-year period has appealed against the severity of his jail term.

The man, who told gardaí­ he had regarded the girl as his daughter by day and “partner” by night, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court in October 2018 to 21 sample charges including rape, attempted rape and sexual assault.

The offences ocurred at locations in Dublin and Leinster on dates between January 2006 and December 2017 when his daughter was aged between five and 17 years.

The man, who cannot be named in order to protect his victim’s identity, also pleaded guilty to three counts of assault causing harm to his daughter on dates between June 2016 and December 2017.

The 54-year-old was sentenced to 18 years in prison with the final three years suspended.

Counsel for the man, Caroline Biggs SC, told the Court of Appeal on Monday that the main ground of appeal was that the sentencing judge, Mr Justice Michael White, had erred in principle by fixing a life sentence as the appropriate headline sentence.

While the case contained “a serious and appalling set of circumstances”, including encouraging the victim to consume alcohol and watch pornography and a horrific breach of trust in a father-daughter relationship, Ms Biggs said the judge had erred by finding the offences were at “the very apex of the serious offence of rape”.

She suggested the appropriate headline sentence should have been in the range of between 10 and 15 years.

Mitigating factors

Ms Biggs said Mr Justice White had also given insufficient credit to the many mitigating factors in the case including the man’s early guilty plea and his full co-operation with gardaí.

She said the man had accepted the blame was all his and had left the family home immediately after the offences were reported and became homeless. The barrister said there had been a history of the man being defiled by male members of his own family.

She claimed similar cases in terms of gravity had received headlines sentences of 10-15 years.

However, the President of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice George Birmingham, presiding, with Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice Maurice Collins, said he found the ground of appeal against the headline sentence of a life sentence was “very surprising” given the offences were among the most serious cases that the courts have had to deal with.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) would have been “pushing an open door” in appealing on grounds of leniency if a headline sentence of 10-15 years had been fixed.

Counsel for the DPP, Conor Devally, SC, argued there had been no error in fixing a headline sentence of life imprisonment given the large number of aggravating factors in the case. The Court of Appeal reserved its ruling in the case until a later date.