Saturday 16 December 2017

'I'm a fighter, not a survivor' - Victim speaks out as father found guilty of sexually abusing ten-year-old daughter

Isabel Hayes

A father who sexually abused his 10-year-old daughter has apologised for not admitting to his crimes and for putting her through the painful experience of a trial last month.

The man (53), who can't be named for legal reasons, went on trial last December charged with sexually abusing and orally raping his daughter in their Offaly home when she was aged between 10 and 12 years old.

He had pleaded not guilty to three counts of sexually assaulting his daughter and three counts of orally raping her on three occasions between February 1994 and September 1996.

He was found guilty by a jury of all six counts.

The sexual abuse took place when the girl's mother was travelling for work, prosecuting counsel Tara Burns SC, told the Central Criminal Court on Monday.

On one occasion, the man told his daughter: “Don't ever let any man do this to you”, the court heard.

After each incident, he left a £50 note on her bedside locker, which she later returned.

The girl's parents separated when she was 13 years old but she never told her mother about the abuse.

She only came forward in 2014, when she learned her father had a new partner with young daughters and she feared the same thing would happen to them.

The court heard the man now accepts responsibility for his actions, a concession Mr Justice Hunt said “would have been so much better a month and a half ago”.

He remanded the man in custody for sentencing on March 27.

In a victim impact statement read out in court, the woman, now aged 32, said her father took advantage of her and how close she was to her mother “to ensure he would get away with these heinous crimes”.

“I had to break my silence of 20 years in order to protect others,” she said. She said even then, her father “didn't do me the courtesy of pleading guilty”.

“He forced me to stand up in a court room in front of my family and strangers and tell them in the most graphic way what he did to me,” the woman said.

She said the abuse had a profound effect on her and she found it hard to trust people.

But she added she refused to be labelled a victim, and worked every day to ensure the abuse didn't impact her life or her relationship with her husband.

“I'm a fighter, not a survivor and I've still got a lot of fight left in me,” she said.

Defence barrister, Michael Delaney SC, said his client accepted the jury's guilty verdict and was now remorseful for what he did to his daughter. He has no previous convictions.

In a letter read out in court and addressed directly to his daughter, the man said: “I apologise from the bottom of my heart.”

“I'm sorry for putting you through this court case,” he added.

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