Man loses sentence appeal for sexually assaulting daughter and granddaughters

President of the Court of Appeal said offending was of ‘great seriousness indeed’

Mr Justice Birmingham said the sentencing judge had made no error in principle in imposing a 13-year sentence. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Mr Justice Birmingham said the sentencing judge had made no error in principle in imposing a 13-year sentence. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

A grandfather who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his daughter and two of his granddaughters has lost an appeal against the severity of his 13-year sentence.

Described as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” during a sentencing hearing in 2016, the now 72-year-old man from the south of the country had argued that the sentencing judge failed to give enough credit for his lack of previous convictions, good work record and early guilty plea.

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham on Monday rejected the appeal. He said the offending, which began with the defendant’s daughter in 1985 and continued until one of the granddaughters revealed the abuse to a teacher in 2014, was of “great seriousness indeed”. He said that even if the offences had not occurred over many years and two generations, each offence in isolation “would fall into the category of the most serious offences of a sexual nature dealt with by these courts”.

Dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Birmingham said the sentencing judge had made no error in principle in imposing a 13-year sentence.

Fracas

The court heard that gardaí were first alerted to the abuse when they were called to a fracas at the family home in 2014 and told that the grandfather had admitted abusing his granddaughters. It later emerged that one of the granddaughters had spoken to a teacher about the abuse two days earlier.

When interviewed, the defendant admitted sexually abusing his granddaughters and daughter. He later pleaded guilty at the Circuit Criminal Court to rape and sexual assault of the younger granddaughter, who first reported his abuse, on dates between 2011 and 2014. He also pleaded guilty to sexual assault of an older granddaughter on dates between 2011 and 2012 and sexual assault of his own daughter on dates between 1995 and 1999.

At a sentencing hearing in 2016 the man’s daughter, who was abused between the ages of 10 and 14, said she had believed she was the only victim. Her abuse came to an end when she shouted at her father to leave her alone.

She described the guilt she felt years later when she discovered he had abused her nieces as well. “How could you have done this to us?” she asked her father while delivering her victim impact statement.The younger granddaughter was aged between six and nine at the time of the abuse, while her cousin was aged between nine and ten years old. The man abused the girls at various locations including the family home and while babysitting.