Dying man who abused daughters jailed for 18 months


A TERMINALLY ill man who sexually abused five of his daughters throughout their childhood has been jailed for 18 months.

The 74-year-old man pleaded guilty to 16 sample counts of rape, indecent assault and sexual assault between 1977 and 1990 in a number of locations around Galway.

The court heard the man has only weeks or months to live and will most likely die in prison.

Mr Justice Paul Carney rejected a defence application to allow him to spend his last days trying to reconcile with his family, which has been split apart by his offences.

The judge said he would usually try to avoid sentencing someone to die in prison, but that the offences were of such gravity that a custodial sentence had to be imposed.

He said because of the man’s condition he was only imposing a fraction of the sentence he normally would in such cases. He noted that the prison service had stated it would have great difficulty in meeting the man’s medical needs but that it would be able to cope.

The man appeared in court with a portable ventilator and coughed heavily through the hearing. He addressed the court at one point, saying: “I’m truly sorry, could you please forgive me?”

An investigation was launched in 2008 when five of the man’s daughters made a complaint to gardaí about being sexually abused throughout their childhood. The women are now all in their 30s.

Sgt Tom Butler told Paul Greene SC, prosecuting, that the women were brought up under a strict code of militaristic discipline and their father would slap or hit them with a wooden paddle.

Large trees were planted around the garden and the children were discouraged from making friends or leaving the boundaries of their home.

Garda Sgt Butler said the women’s father planned his crimes well and would abuse his daughters when their mother was in hospital or working elsewhere in the house. He described the abuse as “unrushed and methodical”.

The abuse followed a similar pattern, starting when each daughter was four or five years old and continuing into their teens.

The Central Criminal Court heard that the man raped two of his daughters from the age of eight and at times the abuse happened on a daily or weekly basis. The children would often be given small gifts after being abused, such as cheese, coins or a matchbox full of sweets. They would always be warned or threatened not to tell their mother.

The elderly man had denied all accusations and insisted his daughters were lying. He later admitted to the abuse and blamed his bad memory on deteriorating health.

In a victim-impact statement, one of the women said she “started to become aware of darkness in the house from a young age” and said fear was the most prominent emotion of her childhood. She wet the bed often as a child because she was afraid to go to the toilet in case she met her father.

Fergal Kavanagh SC, defending, said his client had written letters to all of his daughters apologising and asking for forgiveness.

Mr Kavanagh told the court that his client suffered from medical problems including cancer, which was spreading to his lungs, and the infectious MRSA disease.