Sunday 22 October 2017

Man who sexually abused fianceé's three young daughters jailed

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

Conor Gallagher and Isabel Hayes

A Meath man who sexually abused his fianceé's three young daughters in a “gross betrayal of trust” shortly after moving into their family home has been jailed for 10 years.

The girls' mother stood by her partner and destroyed evidence after one daughter confided that she had been raped by the man, the Central Criminal Court previously heard.

The 39-year-old man was found guilty by a jury of one count of rape and and 12 counts of sexual assault of the three girls in their Meath home in 2009 and 2010 when they were in their early to mid teens. He does not accept the verdict of the jury.

Sentencing the man today, Mr Justice Paul Coffey paid tribute to the three victims, who are now in their early twenties. The abuse “wreaked havoc on their family life” and caused significant psychological harm, he said.

“They have been remarkably resilient and strong characters, which is greatly to their credit,” he said.

There was nothing that could be said in mitigation for the man, who cannot be named to protect his victims, save that he had no previous convictions, the judge said. He was effectively acting as their stepfather when the abuse occurred, he added.

During the nine-day trial in February, the mother said she was “very uncomfortable” giving evidence against the man. She claimed she was being intimidated by her daughters and was in fear for her life.

The trial heard that in the case of one of the victims, the abuse progressed from molestation to an incident of rape where the man attacked the 15-year-old as she lay sick in bed. The next day the girl told her mother what had happened.

The mother confronted her partner and it was decided they would make a report to gardaí. However, the woman said that while they were standing outside the garda station, the man told her it was her daughter who touched him first, so she decided not to tell gardaí.

When she returned home she washed the bedclothes and the clothes from the scene of the rape.

The next day she brought her daughter to the GP to get the morning-after pill. She claimed to the GP that the girl had had consensual sex with a 17-year-old boy.

Gardaí eventually became involved when the girls' school became concerned and notified the HSE. The children were taken into care and the man moved out of the family home.

The girls returned to their mother's house after a few weeks but one of them moved out again when she learned the mother was still in contact with the accused. She was afraid her mother would allow the man to move back into the house.

Pauline Walley SC, prosecuting, told Mr Justice Coffey that when the man moved into the family home, he would buy the girls presents which they considered a form of “bribery”.

The abuse started a short time later.

During one instance one of the girls threatened to tell her mother. The accused told her he would take a knife to her throat if she did.

In their victim impact reports, the victims said the accused had destroyed their family and left them with severe consequences including depression, addiction and anxiety.

One victim said that every time she tried to sleep she saw the accused about to abuse her. She said her mother was supposed to protect them but instead she tried to get her to drop the charges on behalf of the accused.

Another victim said she had to leave the family home for a second time because she was scared her mother would allow the rapist to return. She hasn't spoken with her mother in years.

The third victim said she has tried to take her own life on several occasions since the abuse, as well as engaging in self-harm.

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