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10-year sentence for man who sexually abused partner's teenage daughter

Complainant Suzan Baker waived her right to anonymity so the accused could be publicly named.

A Monaghan man who sexually abused his former partner’s daughter has been given a 10 year sentence at the Central Criminal Court.

Derek Stephen Kerrigan (49) of Glaslough Street, Monaghan pleaded guilty to six counts of rape, three counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault of Suzan Baker at the home he then shared with his former partner at Mullaghmatt Villas, Monaghan between 1989 and 1991.

Ms Baker, who has waived her right to anonymity so Kerrigan can be named, was aged between 12 and 14 years old at the time.

Kerrigan has one minor previous conviction unrelated to these offences. He is a former member of the defence forces but is currently unemployed.

Mr Justice Paul Carney said he was taking into account aggravating factors including the breach of trust, multiplicity and gravity of the offences, as well as the effect on Ms Baker.

In favor of Kerrigan, he took into account the guilty plea, lack of relevant convictions and the delay in the matters coming before the court.

Mr Justice Carney imposed a 10 year sentence and suspended the final two and a half years. He backdated the sentence to November 2012 when Kerrigan went into custody.

He declared Kerrigan a sex offender, imposed 18 months post release supervision and ordered that he stay away from Ms Baker in perpetuity.

After Ms Baker made a complaint to gardai in February 2012, Kerrigan admitted the abuse. It occurred over a two year period at times when her mother was away from the house

He had first sexually abused her after calling her to his bedroom as a 12-year-old to explain “the facts of life” and the abuse continued until her periods began at 14 years old. He told her that no one would believe her if she spoke about the abuse.

Kerrigan told gardai he did not know why he had abused her and said it was "maybe drink and mad notions."

Ms Baker (36) prepared a victim impact statement which outlined that the abuse had affected her relationships, including her relationship with her mother as she had felt unable to tell her what was going on.

She said it was only as she became older that she realised what Kerrigan had done to her was wrong and felt her subsequent drug use was a direct result of the abuse. She felt her life could have been different if she had not been abused and she might have made more of herself.

She said she had messed up her life by dealing with things in the wrong way, was not as strong a person as she could have been and had a negative outlook on life.

Brendan Grehan SC, defending, handed in a letter of apology from Kerrigan in which he stated he wished to apologize to everyone, especially Ms Baker and her family.

Kerrigan said he took full responsibility and was glad it had come to light so there could be closure. He said he had tried to make things as easy as possible for Ms Baker and hopes she can put it behind her.

Mr Grehan said there had been no gratuitous violence involved in the offending and Kerrigan had made full admissions and apologised for his actions. He said a probation report before the court had assessed him at low risk of re-offending.

Garda Stephanie McDaniel told Frank Martin BL, prosecuting, that gardai arrested and interviewed Kerrigan after receiving a complaint from Ms Baker in February 2012.

Ms Baker told gardai that at the time of the offences she lived at Mullaghmatt Villas with Kerrigan, her mother and younger brother.

She recalled that in the summer of 1989 she came into the house after playing outside and Kerrigan called her up to his bedroom. Her mother was in town at the time.

Kerrigan told her "the facts of life" and then told her she should never take her trousers down for anyone. He asked her to take her trousers down and lie on the bed. He pointed to her vagina and told her he would show her what it was for.

He then tried to put his penis inside the 12 year old girl but was unable to. She was crying and he told her to leave the room. She later noticed blood in her pants and had a bath.

The abuse continued to occur while her mother was away from the house. Kerrigan also made her masturbate him, licked her vagina and tried to get her to give him oral sex. On other occasions he would sit her on top of him and guide her how to move up and down.

He told her that no one would believe her if she spoke about the abuse. The abuse stopped when her periods began. The relationship with Ms Baker’s mother also broke up around this time.

When interviewed by gardai in March 2012 Kerrigan admitted sexual abusing the girl. He said he did not know why he had done it and said it was "maybe drink and mad notions."

Gda McDaniel agreed with Brendan Grehan SC, defending, that Kerrigan was remorseful and had accepted it was his fault. She agreed he had got a good discharge from the army but had been a heavy drinker at the time. There are no other charges being pursued against him.

She agreed that when Ms Baker had objected to performing oral sex on Kerrigan he had not forced her to do so.

Mr Martin told Mr Justice Carney that the Director of Public Prosecutions view was that these offences lay at the lower end of the upper range.

Mr Grehan said his client had suffered two heart attacks and had been afraid he might suffer a third before he could enter his pleas. He asked the court to take Kerrigan's health issues into account although there was no medical evidence before the court.

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