Wednesday 26 July 2017

Judge jails C case rapist for `dreadful evil act'

TOMAS Mac RUAIRI

THE RAPIST at the centre of the C case has been sentenced to 12 years in prison by Mr Justice John Quirke at the Central Criminal Court.Simon McGinley (25), a married man and father of three children from Dowdalshill, Dundalk, Co Louth, had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing in October to raping the 13-year-old girl on August 27, 1997.

Mr Justice Quirke told him he had to pay a heavy penalty for what was a particularly abhorrent rape. Not only had he violated an innocent girl but his action had also led to the death of a child through abortion.

His victim was only 13 and the effect on her had been devastating. She had endured much not only from the rape but from what followed.

``You have deprived her of some of her childhood and all of her adolescence. You do not seem to appreciate the enormity of what you have done.''

The judge continued: ``You are not a demon, though some less responsible sections of the media have attempted to demonise you. You are a human being who did a dreadful, evil thing which has left this young woman heavily psychologically scarred for the rest of her life.''

The effect on her would probably have followed even if she had consented to have sex with him because she was only a child. The judge said he was sure McGinley should be conscious of that because he had a daughter himself who would soon be 13.

Mr Justice Quirke said he took into account McGinley's previous good character, the fact that he was a responsible husband and good provider for his family and that he had pleaded guilty even though that was after a jury had been sworn in to try the case.

However, his plea had spared his victim having to relive her terrible experience in evidence. He suspended the final four years of the sentence on condition that McGinley undergo therapy in prison.

Det Sgt Gerard Kelly told prosecuting counsel Anthony Sammon SC the victim and accused were members of the travelling community. He came from one of the largest travelling clans and had no previous convictions.

The victim had been babysitting in a Dublin suburb for McGinley on the night of the rape and he offered afterwards to leave her home. But he drove past her halting site and when she queried this he said he was going to buy cigarettes. He stopped his Hiace van at a council site entrance, leaned over to her, punched her in the face, dragged off her clothes including her underwear, dragged her into the rear and, after undressing, raped her.

Det Sgt Kelly said that while they were both still in the back of the van, McGinley's wife came looking for him and banged on it. He looked out, pushed her away and while totally naked drove off for about half a mile.

The girl dressed herself while he was driving and after some time he stopped to put on his own clothes. She decided to make a run for it but he caught her and punched her again before pulling her back into the van.

McGinley then drove her home and threatened her he would cut her up if she reported what happened.

Det Sgt Kelly said the girl's mother was out when she got home and was in fact with McGinley's wife searching for him. Her family was also threatened not to report the rape but it was reported 18 hours later to gardai by a third party who was also a traveller.

McGinley's identity as the culprit was known to the gardai from the start but by then he had left the area.

Gardai searched areas of Waterford, Tipperary and Louth but failed to locate him until November 21, 1997 in Dundalk.

During the intense media interest surrounding the `Miss C' abortion issue in the courts, McGinley's father approached a detective he knew and went with him to Dundalk where McGinley presented himself, drove to Dublin and was arrested.

McGinley claimed in his initial admissions the girl seduced him and consented to sex.

Michael Durack, for McGinley, said his client was contrite for his crime, which seemed to have been ``an aberration'' committed after a combination of about 10 pints and cannabis.

Counsel also submitted that some of the matters referred to in the victim impact report arose from the events which followed the court appearances, something the defendant had no control over.

A sorry saga for pregnant teen victim

ON August 27 last year the teenage traveller at the centre of the C case controversy was brutally raped.

At the time the tragic youngster must have thought that things could not get any worse. But the 13-year-old had no way of knowing that her horrific ordeal would subsequently plunge her into a new nightmare as a pawn in Ireland's bitter abortion debate.

The sorry saga began when she went to babysit the children of a 24-year-old male traveller in Balgaddy, west Dublin.

When she returned to the two squalid roadside caravans in nearby Clondalkin which were home to her, her parents and 11 siblings a huge crisis broke.

She told her parents she had been raped by the man and was taken to Crumlin Children's Hospital where she was examined. Although she was given the morning after pill to prevent pregnancy the treatment failed.

`SICKENED'

Within a week the girl was taken into the care of the Eastern Health Board after the family, who already had their fair share of problems, received threats apparently for having reported the rape.

Six weeks after she went into care, the girl's parents were given the devastating news by a social worker that their daughter was pregnant.

According to garda sources, the girl was naturally ``totally sickened'' by the attack and wanted an abortion and, in two court sittings in early November to discuss the child's future care, her parents raised the possibility of an abortion.

It was her father who broke the news of the pregnancy to a newspaper and spoke of his support for his daughter's decision to terminate the pregnancy.

U-TURN

``What we really want to do is get our daughter to England, to have an abortion for her own safety,'' her father said in one radio interview.

Then, in a dramatic U-turn following the intervention of anti-abortion groups, her parents went to the Children's Court to tell the Eastern Health Board they were opposed to an abortion and wanted their child back.

They were accompanied to the court by members of two pressure groups, Youth Defence and Family and Life, who were providing taxis, accommodation and legal advice for them.

Not since the 1992 `X' case had the anti-abortion groups had such a high profile and they made the most of the opportunity.

The crusade to force the girl to continue with her pregnancy was deemed crude by many people, and there were accusations that the impoverished family were being blinded by promises of money and support.

In the ensuing public rows, a psychiatrist's report concluding the girl was at risk of suicide if forced to continue with the pregnancy.

As the furore raged, the Eastern Health Board came in for a barrage of criticism from anti-abortion campaigners amid claims the parents were being denied access to their daughter a claim the board strenuously denied.

As total strangers squabbled over her fate, the child, who was being cared for by a foster family in the Midlands, is reported to have said: ``I will kill myself if I had a child ... because it is not my child.''

When the Children's Court ruled in favour of allowing the girl to travel to Britain for an abortion, her parents, backed by Youth Defence, appealed to the High Court which upheld the order.

In early December the teenager travelled to Britain in the company of her foster mother and social workers and her pregnancy was terminated.

In October this year the girl was given her only chance in more than 12 months to have her say when she addressed the Central Criminal Court by video link after her rapist pleaded guilty. Now aged 14, she told the court: ``I hope he gets locked up for life.''

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