A Tipperary man who sexually abused and raped his three daughters in their Dublin family home over an 18 year period has been jailed for 17 years.
The 50-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victims pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to 44 charges of sexually abusing his daughters, 37 counts of raping his eldest daughter, one charge each of anal rape of this girl and oral rape of her younger sister, and one charge of issuing a threat to kill his youngest daughters on dates between October 1994 and July 2012.
He was found guilty on 75 charges following a trial last March. The judge directed the jury to deliver a verdict of not guilty on three charges.
Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan declared the man a sex offender and praised the victims as “persons of very great courage and determination”.
She described the man’s offences as “an exploitation of weak and defenceless children” and said his behaviour was “abhorrent and evil” in this “campaign of rape and sexual abuse” in which he “abused his power in the house”.
The judge said the man showed no remorse, that the crime was planned and pre-meditated and said it was difficult to “discount the sentence in any meaningful way”. She noted that defence said the man’s wife still stands by him.
She said the offences were frequently accompanied by violence or threats of violence and described them as “vile acts” which had been carried out within the confines of the family home.
Ms Justice Heneghan said this was a place where these innocent children should have had security, care and love. She described the first victim as being “defenceless and without support” and added that the abuse continued for eight long years. She noted that the other two daughters were eventually taken into care.
Ms Justice Heneghan said the man had “preyed upon each of these innocent girls for his own satisfaction”.
She said he had shattered their lives when they were vulnerable, controlled them, deprived them of a normal family life, inflicted pain, robbed them of their innocence, deprived them of their education, and turned their family against them.
Ms Justice Heneghan quoted the eldest daughter’s victim impact statement which said “the extent of the damage caused was immeasurable”.
She said the fact that the man had fought the case to conviction, added indignity to each of the victims. The judge also remarked that the jury believed each of the women.
During the trial the eldest of the sisters told the jury she was first sexually abused by the man when she was nine years old before he started to rape her when she was 11 years old. She said she was anally raped once as a 14-year-old when she came home during her lunch break from school.
She said the abuse came to an end after she managed to escape to England with her boyfriend as a 17-year-old.
She had earlier that day enlisted the help of her younger sisters to help her commit suicide but after contacting her boyfriend by text to say goodbye he convinced her to meet up and refused to allow her to return to the house. She never returned to Ireland.
The woman explained that the family lived in fear of the father’s violence and explained that this violence would be directed at the whole family including her mother.
She said he beat them all “quite severely and regularly” using his steel cap work boots and his fists. She described him as a very controlling man.
The second daughter, now 27 years old, was sexually abused from the age of 10 until just before her 14th birthday. She claimed her father once forced her to perform oral sex on him.
The third daughter, now 24 years old, was sexually assaulted from the age of 11 to 13 years old. She said on one occasion her father threatened to kill her two younger sisters.
Victim impact statements from the three sisters were read out in court by Tara Burns SC, prosecuting.
The eldest of the three sisters, now 29, said that she had been a normal child living in England until her father was released from prison there, when the family returned to Ireland and the abuse began. She said that her mother, who gave evidence in support of her husband, “used to be a nice person but seems to be insane now”.
Her next youngest sister described having “nightmares about our father abusing me and my sisters” and that the family had difficulty in relating to each other now as they each “tried to deal with what went on in our own ways.”
The other daughter said that she had substance abuse problems since she was a teenager as a result of the abuse. She said that she hoped her father would get the help he needs.
The man has 57 previous convictions, mainly for road traffic offences. He has no previous convictions for sex crimes.
Dominic McGinn SC, defending, submitted that there was no evidence to suggest that his client continued this behaviour in recent years and asked the court to accept that the offending was limited to a relatively small portion of his adult life. He said his wife still stands by him.
SundayWorld-Declan Conlon and Sonya McLean