Monday 21 August 2017

'He was meant to love and protect me' - man who raped step-daughter jailed

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

Isabel Hayes

A man who sexually assaulted and raped his step-daughter for over seven years has been jailed for ten years.

In a lengthy victim impact statement, the 24-year-old woman said she would never live a normal life due to the abuse she suffered “from a man who was meant to love and protect me as a daughter”.

The court heard the 44-year-old Kildare man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, met the girl's mother when she was a baby and started sexually assaulting her when she was aged 12. He started raping her regularly when she was 15.

The man was found guilty by a Central Criminal Court jury earlier this year of 17 counts of sexually assaulting his stepdaughter between 2004 and 2007 and 16 counts of raping her between 2008 and 2011.

During his trial in January, the man maintained that his stepdaughter had fabricated the allegations against him because he would not let her boyfriend into the house. He does not accept the guilty verdicts of the jury, the court heard.

Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy noted the abuse had a devastating effect on the young woman and her family. Sentencing the man today, she imposed concurrent sentences totalling 12 years and suspended the final two years.

The garda in charge of the case read out the woman's victim impact statement, in which she said her stepfather had stolen her childhood.

“When other kids my age were out playing with their friends, I was being abused behind closed doors and that's something that will never leave me,” she said.

She said that six years after coming forward about the abuse, she was still “constantly living a nightmare”. She said she suffered from severe depression, anxiety and panic attacks. She said she could not handle enclosed spaces and often retreated to her bedroom and self-harmed.

The woman said she had dreamed of becoming a psychologist, but her severe depression had left her unable to pursue a career or form lasting relationships.

“I will never live a normal life,” she said. “I've gone through life with a permanent mask on, hiding how I feel...I will never recover fully from this. And for that, I will never forgive him.”

The garda told Paul Burns SC, prosecuting, that the man married the girl's mother a few years after meeting her and they had more children together.

The man started sexually assaulting his stepdaughter in 2004, when she was just 12 years old and he started regularly raping her during her Junior Certificate year.

“She was afraid if she reported the incidents it would break up the family,” Mr Burns said. “The accused had also threatened to kill himself if she reported him to gardaí.”

At the age of 19 the young woman “couldn't take it anymore” and told her mother about the abuse. She then reported the man to gardaí.

Roderick O'Hanlon SC, defending, said the mitigating factors of a guilty plea did not arise as the man does not accept the guilty verdicts. He said the placing of the man's name on the sexual offender register would have an impact on his future.

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