Video: Shock and disbelief but Fiona vows to keep fighting
FIONA Doyle chose to waive her anonymity because she wanted everyone to know what her father did to her. As she sat in court yesterday to witness – after 31 years – justice being delivered to the man who destroyed her childhood, she was forced to endure further pain.
Nine years of her father's 12-year sentence were to be suspended and he would be released on bail, pending an appeal.
She sank heavily on to her husband's chest and dissolved in helpless, silent tears as he shook his own head in disbelief.
The court had earlier heard how her father had started raping her on the eve of her First Communion.
Fiona was not sent to bed with her hair in ringlet papers, in the anticipation of her big day when she could don her white dress and have a fuss made of her.
Instead, she was left in pain and bewilderment after her father committed the ultimate violation of his own daughter.
It was just the first evening in a decade of rape and sexual assault that Patrick O'Brien would inflict on the innocent child. Seated as far as was physically possible from the bent frame of her father and mother Bridget in courtroom six, Fiona was supported by her husband, her son and her uncle on her mother's side, together with numerous friends.
Despite the glamour of her appearance, with her shining blonde hair and fake fur coat, the devastation in her eyes was unmissable as the judge's words sank in.
Afterwards, she stood outside the court and, with eyes filled with tears, told how upset she had been to hear her father described as being of "good character".
She said that since she first spoke out 23 years ago, her father "hounded and harassed me, called me a liar, shown no remorse whatsoever".
But raising her chin just a fraction, Fiona said she was a fighter. "I'll come back at it again," she vowed.
With pain, she spoke of the family she had lost as a result of her claims – friends, uncles, her brother and sisters, nieces and nephews . She has even become estranged from her own daughter.
"I lost them all. My daughter, my grandchildren," she said. "The price of this has just been too high for us."
Her father had never said sorry for what he had done. She did not know what was going to happen now, she said.
She just needed to make sure that "we're okay and that my kids are okay".