Monday 5 December 2016

'He treated the animals better than me' - Woman tells of sex abuse after father jailed

Sonya McLean

Published 11/07/2016 | 18:50

The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin

A man who sexually abused his daughter nearly every day for ten years has been sentenced to eight years with one suspended.

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The Central Criminal Court heard the victim said she felt like an animal the day her father cornered her in a shed and tried to have sex with her. Her 50-year-old father has since been diagnosed a paedophile by a psychiatrist.

The court heard that he began abusing his daughter when she was five years old after he developed an addiction to pornography.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt ordered the man be registered as a sex offender. He suspended the final year of the eight year sentence for three years and ordered that the accused undergo 18 months post release supervision

The now 20-year-old victim first disclosed the abuse to her school chaplain when she was 17 years old. She said she always felt different from others and was bullied in school.

She read in her victim impact statement that a father was supposed to care for and protect his children, but he “treated me like an object that he could use and control”. She said as a child she felt she was unable to turn to anyone, “even after I realised what was going on”.

Recalling an incident of attempted rape when she was “cornered” in a cattle shed, she said; “I remember thinking he treated the animals better than me. I told him I felt like a chained up animal.”

The 50-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to two attempted rapes and ten sexual assaults on dates between 2003 to 2012 at the family farm and other areas under the family holding in County Sligo. He has no previous convictions.

The court heard that the man would often wake the girl up from her sleep and bring her into his bedroom where he would sexually assault her in the bed he shared with his wife. The girl recalled that on one occasion her baby sister, who would sleep in a cot in their parent's room, was awake and watching them.

The man would also watch the girl while she showered. He always abused her after asking her to come out and help him on the family’s farm with the evening chores.

Dara Foynes BL, prosecuting, told Mr Justice Hunt that the ten counts were representative of 37 counts. She said the girl claimed that he abused her every day and the father admitted to gardaí that it happened at least two or three times a week.

The man made immediate admissions to a social worker in March 2014 and immediately left the family home.

The girl said the fact that her younger sisters still didn't know why their father left was very upsetting for her and she felt responsible for breaking up the family.

The man told gardaí during interview that he took advantage of the close relationship he had with his daughter. “I had a thing in my mind that I was giving her comfort,” he said.

Mr Justice Hunt said he had concerns about the man being diagnosed as a paedophile following an assessment by Doctor Brenda Wright.

He asked John Paul Shortt SC, defending, if such a person could ever be rehabilitated, having said he would be worried about allowing person with that diagnosis back into the community. Counsel replied that he believed “nobody was beyond redemption”.

The man took the stand and addressed his daughter in court saying that a “proper apology was well overdue”. He said he understood that a prison sentence was for him to surrender to his past failings and his crimes, which he said his poor daughter was the victim of.

Mr Justice Hunt told him that the victim, the man's eldest daughter was “the very obvious victim but there are other victims in the family too”.

Mr Shortt said a psychiatrist report from Dr Wright concluded that his client's “descent into depravity ran in tandem with an addiction that he developed into watching pornography and sex channels”. She concluded her report by giving the diagnosis that the man was a paedophile who was sexually attracted to prepubescent girls.

Mr Shortt said his client had led “an otherwise blameless life” before the appalling offences began. He asked that the court take into account that the man always admitted “the sick and perverted behaviour over a protracted period”.

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