Sonya McLean and Declan Brennan
Lawyers defending a repeat sex offender submitted that the prolific nature of his sexual assaults pointed to an underlying compulsion which could be viewed as mitigation against his offending.
The 56-year-old Wexford man, who cannot be named to protect the victim's identity, has eight previous convictions from 2018 for sexual assaults committed in 1979 and 1980 and separately in 2007 and 2009.
After a trial at the Central Criminal Court last June, he was convicted of five charges of sexual assault and two charges of oral rape on dates between February 1991 and February 2005 when the victim was aged between five and 18 years old. He continues to deny the offending in this case and does not accept the jury verdicts.
The court heard that the man's lawyers submitted that “the prolific nature of his offending pointed to an underlying and unusual compulsion” involving strong sexual urges which the court could take into consideration as a mitigating personal characteristic. Justice David Keane described this submission as “unattractive” which was not supported by any medical or psychological evidence.
The now 36-year-old victim told the court that the man stole her childhood innocence and used her body as if it was a toy in his “dirty twisted mind”.
Mr Justice Keane said these were wicked crimes in which the abuser deployed cruel and cynical manipulation to both commit and conceal the abuse.
“He manipulated her into believing she had to kept the abuse secret in order to keep her family safe, whereas the opposite was the truth,” the judge said. He said he wished to express his admiration for the survivor's resilience in coping with the psychological trauma caused by the child abuse.
“I wish her every success as she continues to rebuild her life,” he said.
Noting the aggravating factors, he said the offender groomed the victim and the frequent sexual assaults involved repeated degradation and humiliation of the child for over a decade.
This was very nearly her entire childhood and during this time the man turned the child's home into a place of fear and torment when it should have been a place of sanctity. He said the man's action caused the victim considerable harm, leaving her deeply traumatised.
Justice Keane imposed a 14-year prison term for the rape offences and sentences of three years and seven years for the various sexual assaults. All sentences are to run concurrent and are backdated to June 24 last, when the man went into custody.
Justice Keane said that as the man continues to deny the offending there was no realistic prospect of encouraging his rehabilitation. As a result he said he was not suspending any portion of the sentence.
He said to offer some protection to the public after the man's release he was ordering that the man must be subject to supervision by the Probation Service for two years after his release.
Taking to the stand to deliver her own victim impact statement, the survivor told the court that her abuser never took responsibility for what he did to her.
'Dirty twisted mind'
“You touched my body that you had no right to touch. You used her (her body) as it was a toy in your dirty twisted mind. You told me this was what men do, but it is what monsters do”.
The woman continued that she is now the person she was meant to be, “the person I choose to be” before she said the man stole her childhood and her innocence.
“I protected you for far too long,” the woman said referring to the fact that she did not disclose the abuse for some time, but she said “one morning I made a decision to take back what was mine. I chose to protect me. I could finally live the life I choose”.
The woman referred to the fact that the man denied the charges and she had to give evidence at trial.
“You can tell yourself over and over you are innocent, but the truth will always win. Not once did you show remorse. I can only assume you were not sorry and you still think it was not wrong. It is not okay that you abused me.”
“I am exactly who I am meant to be, and I continue to do even better. I know I am not perfect. I made choices to protect you.
“You may have broken the old me, but I can walk out of here today with my head held high while you sit here with your head hidden,” the woman concluded her statement.
John Peart SC, defending, said his client acts as a carer for both his elderly parents and read out a letter to the court written by his client’s mother and daughter.
The letter from his mother said she was “fully aware of his charges” and described the man as being “very good with us”. His daughter, who is the sister of the victim in the case, said in her letter “to me, he is the best Dad ever”.
“He always puts everyone’s need before his own, my grandparents would be lost without him being around to care for them. He is truly needed at home and loved by everyone at his home,” she continued.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800 77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help.
In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.