A FORMER postman who raped two sisters and sexually abused a third from when they were young girls has been jailed for 20 years.
At the Central Criminal Court yesterday, Michael Farrell Junior (45), formerly of Davin Park, Mountmellick, Co Laois, and with a current address at Cromwellsfort House, Wexford, was given two consecutive sentences of eight years for the rapes, and a further four-year consecutive term for the sexual assaults.
"I am imposing the sentences consecutively to ensure that each victims' suffering is considered and punished for individually," Mr Justice Michael Peart said.
His decision was welcomed by the Rape Crisis Network, which said it had been calling for these sort of consecutive sentences for a long time.
Fiona Neary, national co-ordinator of the network, said the jail terms send out the message that what has been done to the victims really is being taken into account, and the perpetrator is doing "proper" time.
It also sends a message to perpetrators that they cannot commit the same offence on several people and serve the same amount of time as they would for one offence, she said.
"What was happening before is that they practically had a green light to do the same thing to other people, or something else to the same victim, knowing that it would not impact on their sentence," she added.
Farrell was convicted by a jury last November on 11 charges of rape and 20 charges of indecent assault of the three sisters, who were aged between four and 14 years of age when abused.
Farrell himself was 15 years of age when he began abusing the girls.
Evidence was given by the sisters during the seven-day trial that he would send them on small errands to the local shop after which he would invite them into his house at Davin Park, or to a flat there where he later lived, to abuse them.
The victims requested that Farrell be identified at his home addresses where he abused them between 1975 and 1984.
Mr Justice Peart said Farrell, despite being 15 years old when he first offended against the girls, had exploited their age to his advantage and threatened them against revealing his crimes to such an extent that they had not known what he was doing to each other.
He also noted Farrell had neither shown remorse nor apologised for his actions, and had continued to maintain his innocence of the offences.
By insisting to do so, he said, Farrell had subjected the sisters, who were now aged 25, 34 and 36, respectively, to the added trauma of having to relive their ordeal by giving evidence in court.
Mr Justice Peart said that given the length of the sentence, he did not deem it necessary to order post-release supervision for Farrell.
He acknowledged that Farrell had suffered in his personal life as a result of the offences, having lost the job at An Post he had held for 20 years.
He said he was also taking into consideration that Farrell's marriage had broken down since he was taken into custody last December and acknowledged that adverse publicity surrounding the case had caused damages to the sales business he had set up since losing his job as a postman.
Mr Justice Peart said, however, a balance had to be found in imposing the appropriate sentence which adequately acknowledged the suffering of the three sisters.
The older of the two sisters whom Farrell raped, in this case 10 times, told Mr Justice Peart the offences affected her to such an extent that she had spent six years in hospital undergoing psychiatric treatment and had attempted several times to take her own life.
She had also undergone 11 years of counselling and medication, and was continuing with such treatment.
Her continued hospitalisation had an enormous adverse impact on her own children, whose care and upbringing had to be handed over to others for long periods of time.
The jury returned majority verdicts of 10-2 and 11-1 on 10 charges of raping one of the victims, and on 10 of indecently assaulting her.
It also found him not guilty on one count each of rape and indecent assault in relation to her.
The jury also convicted Farrell on one count each of raping a second sister and indecently assaulting her, as well as on nine counts of indecently assaulting a third sister.
The jury, following some seven hours of deliberations over two days, found Farrell not guilty on three counts of indecent assault and disagreed on one charge of indecent assault in relation to a fourth sister.