Sunday 18 February 2018

Hard-hitting testimony of courageous young woman

Brian McDonald

THE DNA evidence was damning, but there is little doubt that his daughter's compelling testimony made the biggest impact on the jury in the six-day trial.

The 30-year-old woman, who had endured a 14-year nightmare at his hands, had only managed to fashion her escape when she summoned up the courage to walk into a garda station in 2000.

Her resolve was tested on several occasions since then and her final test came just over a week ago, when she had to face him down in the forbidding confines of courtroom No 3 in Castlebar courthouse.

As she was called to give evidence -- and nobody doubted that her testimony alone would either make or break the case -- she had to walk past him as he stared her down from his seat not far from the witness box.

She walked slowly past him, looking straight ahead and took the Bible in her hand to be sworn in. It was only when asked to give her name that the handful of people present in the court got an idea of how badly she wanted to distance herself from the man who called himself her father.

As he looked up at her and moved to touch the blue rosary beads around his neck, she declined to use his family name and chose instead her mother's maiden name.

For the most part, she was unemotional and gave simple, concise, but utterly compelling answers as she was guided through her evidence by prosecution counsel Paul Burns. At each break in proceedings, she left the witness box and the female garda was quickly by her side, once again forming a barrier between her and her father.

But she had yet to endure cross-examination. Martin Giblin is one of the country's foremost criminal defence barristers and he tested her answers on each and every issue of substance. She was not found wanting.

As her ordeal finally ended and she left the witness box for the last time, her shoulders began to shake. Just a little at first. But as she was met in front of her father by her ever-present garda escort, a sob escaped her lips.

It was gut-wrenching stuff and the jury members were clearly battling with their own emotions.

Only those intimately involved in the case know the young woman's name. And that's as the law decrees it should be in order to protect her as a victim and her family. As such, few will ever get to tell her how courageous she was; what a fine thing she did.

Irish Independent

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