Monday 11 December 2017

Fiona Doyle wants charges brought against her mother as well as rapist father

Fiona Doyle
Fiona Doyle

Ed Carty

RAPE survivor Fiona Doyle, who fought for 20 years to have her father jailed for a decade of childhood abuse, is pressing prosecutors to bring charges against her mother.

The mother-of-five said she wants further action taken as the Director of Public Prosecutions is to appeal the leniency of the sentence handed down to her paedophile father Patrick O'Brien.

Rapist O'Brien was jailed last month amid unprecedented criticism of trial Judge Paul Carney who reversed an earlier decision to release the 72-year-old on bail pending his appeal.

But the DPP has informed Mrs Doyle they now plan to ask the appeal court to increase the sentence, 12-years in jail with nine suspended.

"I have found the prospect of my father having to serve only 18 months, if that, of the three-year term that was imposed both upsetting and distressing," Mrs Doyle said.

O'Brien abused his daughter, now 47, once a week from the age of eight.

Mrs Doyle first made a complaint about the abuse to gardai and health workers 20 years ago.

O’Brien’s wife Breda stood by him throughout the garda investigation and court case and after he was jailed Mrs Doyle said that her parents wanted nothing to do with her.

Prosecutors yesterday informed her of plans to launch an appeal to have the sentence against her father increased.

"I will now put my faith in the justice system once again in the hope that my father receives a sentence that better reflects the gravity of the crime," she said.

It is not clear when or if action could be taken against her mother. It is understood there would be difficulties bringing charges against Breda O'Brien, also known as Bridget, under reckless endangerment or failure to safeguard a child as the legislation is not retrospective.

"People in this country have shown that they want offenders, particularly in cases of prolonged sexual abuse, to receive sentences that are in keeping with the seriousness of the crime," Mrs Doyle said in a statement.

"Our children need to be protected and abusers need to know they will be held accountable and will be subjected to the full force of the law."

O'Brien, of Old Court Avenue, Bray, Co Wicklow, pleaded guilty to 16 charges of the rape and indecent assault of his daughter from 1973 to 1982.

The brutal ordeal began on the night before her First Holy Communion.

He was sentenced but initially walked from the court on bail pending an appeal, certified by Judge Carney.

The move prompted a barrage of criticism from Rape Crisis Network Ireland, politicians and abuse survivor campaigners.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny also intervened and met Ms Doyle in person to hear her concerns about the justice system.

No application for appeal had been made at the time by either O'Brien's defence lawyers or state prosecutors to challenge the sentence at the three-judge Court of Criminal Appeal.

A week later, Judge Carney, regarded as one of the country's most senior criminal judges, accepted that the decision to release O'Brien had been inappropriate and insensitive and he jailed him.

He insisted that the bail policy had followed previous court rulings.

Ellen O'Malley-Dunlop, chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, said the DPP appeal is very positive for other victims.

"It will also have far reaching positive effects for the safety of Irish Society. It sends a message to perpetrators of these crimes that they will be punished appropriately," she said.

Later, the Courts Service confirmed that the DPP had lodged papers in the office of the Court of Criminal Appeal.

The appeal is being taken on the grounds of "undue leniency" of sentence.

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