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Friday 19 September 2014

Laois man has life sentence for rape and sexual abuse of daughter reduced to 15 years

Brian Kavanagh

Published 17/12/2012 | 14:57

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A LAOIS man has had his life sentence for the repeated rape and sexual assault of his daughter over a ten-year period reduced to fifteen years on appeal.

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The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was sentenced to life imprisonment by Mr Justice Paul Carney in March 2006, having pleaded guilty to 32 counts of rape and sexual assault against his daughter, beginning when she was just seven years old.

Mr Justice Carney ordered that the life sentence run consecutively to a 20-year prison term already imposed on the man for sexually abusing three other girls between 1975 and 1984, as five of the offences against his daughter were committed whilst he was on bail awaiting trial for these earlier charges.

In October last year, the Court of Criminal Appeal set aside the life sentence imposed by Mr Justice Carney, having found that the judge fell in to error by believing he was constrained to impose a consecutive life sentence.

Counsel for the applicant, Mr Michael O’Higgins SC, had argued that although the man committed a heinous offence, it had not come “anywhere near” the worse case imaginable and the decision to impose a life sentence was “excessive”.

He said that the man suffered with neurological problems which made his tariff more onerous than for an able-bodied person and reminded the court that the applicant will be 60 before he commences serving his sentence for the abuse of his daughter.

This morning Mr O’Higgins told the three judge court that his client was otherwise a person of “exemplary good character” who was described by the prosecuting officer as “hardworking” and a “quiet man who kept himself to himself”.

He said that although his client had stepped well outside of societal norms and the law, he was a person who had worked very hard in life and took his first part-time job at the age of nine.

Mr O’Higgins said that the man had offered €10,000 by way of compensation to his daughter, which although was a paltry sum of money by civil law standards, was very significant given the man’s personal circumstances.

He submitted that it was open to the court to suspend a portion of the sentence under very strict conditions.

Counsel for the State, Mr Paul Greene SC, said that the imposition of a life sentence was an appropriate response by Mr Justice Carney, as he was faced by a defendant who had entered a late plea of guilty and had committed some of the offences whilst on bail.

He said the court had to have regard to the future protection of the public and as a matter of discretion could consider imposing a life sentence.

Presiding judge Mr Adrian Hardiman said the court was “in no sense” reviewing the sentence imposed by Mr Justice Carney and would pass sentence having regard to the circumstances of the case as they are today.

He said court had taken all circumstances into account, in particular the totality principle, and considered the appropriate sentence to be one of fifteen years imprisonment.

Mr Justice Hardiman said the court would impose this sentence on ten counts of rape with the remaining counts to be taken in to consideration.

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