Dearbhail McDonald: Rare maximum jail sentence for 'house of hell' father
Published 05/10/2010 | 05:00
THE maximum sentence for rape in Ireland is life, a penalty that is rarely deployed as there is usually some redeeming factor -- no matter how small -- to mitigate against the imposition of the harshest sentence we have.
But there was little to redeem a man already serving a lengthy prison term for the indecent assault of two minors -- whose campaign of sexual abuse inflicted on three of his young children resulted in him being handed a life sentence yesterday.
Mr Justice George Birmingham said the depictions of the now 73-year-old as a "monster" who reigned in "the home from hell" were more than warranted.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was jailed after breaching court orders not to contact his children who were placed in care to escape his reach.
He abused his children while out on bail for the previous offences, and much of the abuse occurred after his children had been removed from their family home.
Neither age nor infirmity could stand in the way of the sentence imposed on him, the severity of which the man may appeal.
Yesterday at the Central Criminal Court, two sisters fled in tears as prosecutors detailed the appalling crusade of rape and sexual abuse inflicted upon them and their younger brother by their now-elderly father.
The two young women returned to bravely detail the impact of the abuse on their lives, directing their anger not just towards their father but also towards their mother and the HSE for failing to protect them.
One of the sisters, aged just 18, told that she habitually self-harmed and had attempted to kill herself six times. On one occasion, following an overdose, she laughed as her liver started to fail because she did not want to live any more.
"Since the age of four I was betrayed in the worst possible way," she said. "He stole my whole childhood. I would have been better off if he had killed me."
Her older sister, aged 19, detailed how her father continued to abuse her after she had been placed in care.
After she went into care, her father would come to the home and knock on her window to tell her to run away. She ran away many times and was sexually abused by her father.
When she told him he was hurting her he told her: "This is what Daddies do."