Man sentenced to 11 years in prison for raping foster daughter

Kelly Kemmy waived her anonymity to name Stephen Murray

A man has been sentenced to 12 years imprisonment with the final 12 months suspended after pleading guilty to multiple counts of raping his foster daughter when she was between the ages of 11 and 18.

Stephen Murray (56) with an address of Humphreystown, Valleymount, Co Wicklow, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to 14 charges of rape, two charges of oral rape and one charge of sexual assault between February 2009 and December 2015.

Waiving her right to anonymity, Kelly Kemmy (24) said outside court that she hoped the verdict would be a “ray of hope for all other victims of sexual abuse”.

“I will live with this abuse for the rest of my life, but some sort of justice was served today,” she said.

Ms Kemmy said she was "happy with the sentence" and thanked the detectives who worked on her case and her family and friends for their support.

In her victim impact statement on Monday, Ms Kemmy told the court she had been “hurt in ways no human should be” but was determined not to let the abuse define her.

Anne Rowland SC, prosecuting, said Ms Kemmy had been raped three to four times a week during the seven-year period, equal to over a thousand incidences of rape.

The abuse “happened in a place I was supposed to call home,” Ms Kemmy said in her victim impact statement. It made her feel she “had no safe place” and was “completely alone”. She had “constant flashbacks” to the abuse.

For her siblings’ sake she had “tried to act normal during the day” but at night, she said, “I cried myself to sleep”.

“You were the first man I trusted and the first man to tell me you loved me,” she said.

The little girl she was before the abuse began was now “a distant memory” and she had spent 15 years “surviving life, sometimes just existing”.

“But today is when I start living it,” she said, adding: “Although I am terrified, I stand in front of you as a survivor.”

At the initial sentencing hearing on Monday, investigating Garda Detective Laura Kavanagh told the court the woman first made a statement in July 2019. She had not reported earlier due to feeling "ashamed for years".

The victim had been in the foster care of Mr Murray and his wife from the age of five and her two siblings were also in the care of the couple.

At the time the abuse began Ms Kemmy had just made her Confirmation and was still in primary school. She was “confused and didn’t know if it was wrong” at the time.

From then until she was 18 years of age, there was “never a week” when Mr Murray did not abuse her except for a period of two-to-three months when he was recovering from a hip replacement.

The victim said she had hoped Mr Murray’s hip replacement would put an end to the abuse but he had recommenced after he recovered.

“It was constant,” the court heard.

The childrens’ foster mother was unable to have children after an illness in her 30s and the court heard they were “loved by her” and “wanted for nothing”.

On an occasion when their foster mother went on a holiday for three days, Mr Murray “spent longer in the bedroom” with Ms Kemmy.

At the age of 18, Ms Kemmy met a boy and he became her boyfriend. From that point, “nothing happened” with Mr Murray, however, following their breakup in 2019, she received a series of text messages from Mr Murray asking her if they “could go again?”

Ms Kemmy became worried that he would come into her bedroom again but he did not. Ms Rowland SC said this gave the victim "the impetus" to disclose the abuse to her siblings and later to make a complaint to gardaí in Blessington, Co Wicklow. At that point she was 21 years old.

On his arrest in December 2019, Mr Murray made no comment during the interview. His wife later made a statement to gardaí that he had admitted the offences to her.

Mr Murray’s relationship with his wife ended and Ms Kemmy’s two siblings were also removed from the home.

Ronan Munro SC, defending, said his client was “appropriately ashamed” of what he had done.

In a statement read out by Mr Munro on behalf of Murray, he said he "recognised she was a child and absolutely blameless" and hoped "any guilt or blame will be transferred onto him" by him pleading guilty. Murray had no previous convictions.

Counsel said the Director of Public Prosecution has directed that the case falls into the “exceptional category” for such offending, given the vulnerability of the victim, frequency of offending and the impact on the victim.

At the sentencing hearing on Friday, Judge Paul McDermott said the abuse had occurred in a place Ms Kemmy “ought to have felt safe, protected and secure” but her home instead became “the place of repeated abuse”.

It was “difficult to absorb the despondency created for a child in this situation,” he said.

There were a number of aggravating features in the case, including that the offences were committed against “a very young child who was vulnerable…made worse by the fact she had nowhere to turn”.

The abuse was “an egregious breach of trust as a foster father”.

Mr Justice McDermott sentenced Murray to 12 years imprisonment with the final 12 months suspended.