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Father who raped own daughters has appeal thrown out

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A rapist father who encouraged the family dog to take part in the sexual abuse of his daughters has lost his appeal against his conviction.

In July 2018 Patrick Byrnes (80), with a last address at Castletroy, Co Limerick, was convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury of 58 charges of indecent assault and two counts of rape on dates between 1975 and 1985.

One of his daughters blamed the abuse for her broken marriage and said she could not bear to be near the family dog after him "willing" the animal to engage in sexual acts with her.

Byrnes began abusing his daughters when they were aged around seven, the year of their First Communion. They said they lived in "abject fear" of him and have been left broken by the decade of abuse.

The father-of-nine, who denied all of the charges, was sentenced to eight years with two years suspended.

Byrnes appealed his conviction on the basis of how the trial judge dealt with alleged fabrication and collusion by the two complainants in his instructions to the jury.

His barrister, Roisin Lacey SC, said it was "manifestly clear" that the alleged fabrication of the offences, and collusion and collaboration on behalf of the two complainants was a "central plank" of the defence case.

Ms Lacey said this critical part of the defence case was not addressed in the charge to the jury by the trial judge.

She also said there was an error of law committed in the manner in which the jury was not directed on whether it could use the evidence of one complainant as corroborative of the other.

However the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. It agreed that it would have been desirable if the prosecution had "set out its stall at the start of the case and explained why they were proceeding with counts involving two complainants, and how, in their view, the jury should deal with that situation".

"Such, however, is a counsel of perfection. As has often been said, an accused person is entitled to a fair trial, not a perfect trial," it said.

Irish Independent