News Courts

Saturday 23 August 2014

Athlone child rapist appeals life sentence

BRIAN McDONALD and JOHN FALLON

Published 23/03/2014 | 22:05

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The Central Criminal Court

The man who repeatedly raped two little girls in Athlone — facing the prospect of spending the rest of his days behind bars — has mounted a legal challenge to his sentence.

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The 30-year-old father of two has appealed the two life terms imposed on him by Mr Justice Paul Carney in the Central Criminal Court just three weeks ago.

His solicitor, Gearoid Geraghty confirmed today that he had received instructions and an appeal had been lodged with the Court of Criminal Appeal.

The shocking case had effectively been fast-tracked through the courts after the man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victims, acknowledged at the earliest stage that he would be pleading guilty and waived his right to the book of evidence.

He admitted all five charges — three counts of the rape, anal rape and oral rape of a 9-year-old and two counts of the oral and anal rape of a 6-year-old girl at an address in Athlone on September 28 last year.

At his sentencing hearing on March 3, the Central Criminal Court heard that the little girls had been attending a birthday party when the man lured them to a flat pretending he had a six-year-old daughter who was too shy to come out to play.

Once inside he violently raped the children, threatened to cut their throats and told them he would cut their parents' throats if they did not do as he said.

Following the attack, he ordered them to stay in the room for 20 minutes, but they managed to escape through a window.

The girls' parents raised the alarm after they had been noticed missing.

They were found just as a 999 call was being made. Gardaí were called again after the girls told their parents what "a bad man" had done to them.

After his arrest near the scene, the man told gardai he had been off his head on drink and had been taking Valium. But, he acknowledged this could not be used as an excuse.

Defence senior counsel, Martin Giblin told the sentencing hearing that his client had indicated at a very early stage that he wanted to cooperate with the investigation.

Mr Giblin said the offences were extremely serious--as serious as any that had come before the court--and he did not want anything he said to be understood as diminishing the seriousness of the offences or the impact on the girls and their families.

But, he told Mr Justice Carney, an indeterminate sentence was not called for in this case. There was no evidence in the man's medical background of paedophilia, he stressed.

He came from a very difficult family background and he said the extent of his cooperation with the prosecution had to be taken into account.

Mr Giblin said if the court imposed an indeterminate sentence in this case there would be no incentive for others to plead guilty in such cases.

Counsel for the DPP said it was the Director's view that these offences were at the upper end of the scale because of the nature of the behaviour, the age of the victims, the premeditation and the multiplicity of the assaults.

The judge said the accused’s dysfunctional background afforded little if any mitigation and the question of drink or drugs afforded no defence.

Imposing two concurrent life sentences, he said that, in the normal course of events, he would be entitled to a substantial discount for pleading guilty, but the case was too serious.

Yesterday the man’s solicitor confirmed that an appeal against the sentence had now been lodged.

“The appeal is on the grounds that the sentence was excessive in all of the circumstances”, Mr Geraghty said.

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