Monday 19 February 2018

Former primary school teacher jailed for rape and abuse loses appeal against conviction

Central Criminal Court (Stock photo)
Central Criminal Court (Stock photo)

Ruaidhri Giblin

A former primary school teacher jailed for more than 100 counts of abusing his sister-in-law over 12 years, and for raping her, has lost an appeal against conviction.

The 65-year-old man, whose details cannot be published to protect the victim's identity, was found guilty by a Central Criminal Court jury of one count of rape as well as 115 counts of indecently assaulting and sexual assaulting his sister-in-law between 1981 and 1993.

The Connemara man, who had denied all charges, was acquitted on 29 counts by direction of the trial judge and the jury returned verdicts of not guilty on a further 27 counts.

He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for rape and to concurrent five year terms in respect of each assault count by Mr Justice Paul Butler on December 19, 2014.

Last year, the man sought to appeal his conviction. However, dismissing his appeal on all grounds today, Mr Justice George Birmingham said the Court of Appeal did not consider his trial to have been unfair or unsatisfactory or that the verdicts were unsafe.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the man, a primary school teacher, was first the boyfriend and later the husband of one of the complainant's older sisters. He regularly visited the complainant's family and she regularly visited his home.

The prosecution case was that he abused her from the age of six until she was 18 by fondling over her clothing progressing to touching, digital penetration and fondling her breasts.

Turning to the grounds of appeal, Mr Justice Birmingham said the trial judge felt there would be a real unfairness if the jury was left with the false impression that there had been no complaint of the offences until modern times.

He said the Court of Appeal could not conclude that the trial judge exceeded his discretion when he permitted the jury to hear what the complainant had told her friend and psychiatrist who was treating her.

In relation to six civilian witnesses, whose evidence was ruled admissible, Mr Justice Birmingham said their evidence provided support for the complainant's evidence and did not support the proposition that the man's relationship with the complainant was normal or healthy.

That an adult male should be in bed naked with eleven year old girls and that he should observe them performing naked gymnastics was manifestly inappropriate, he said.

In relation to the recalling of rebuttal evidence, Mr Justice Birmingham said the trial judge's ruling was appropriate. Furthermore, the judge's charge to the jury was tailored to the circumstances of the case.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the court had considered the various ground appeal and could not conclude that the trial was unfair or unsatisfactory or that the verdicts were unsafe.

Accordingly, the court dismissed the appeal.

The man had attempted to appeal his conviction on grounds that the trial judge erred in permitting evidence to be given by two witnesses of what the complainant had sad to them about being abused; That the judge erred in ruling the evidence of six witnesses was admissible; That the judge erred in allowing the prosecution to recall the complainant after the accused had given evidence; That the judge erred in allowing the prosecution to recall three witnesses to rebut evidence given by the man during the trial.

Finally it was submitted that the jury's verdict was perverse and inconsistent.

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