Saturday 17 November 2018

Judge apologises as evil rapist father is finally jailed

Fiona Doyle leaving court with her husband Jim and son Patrick. Photo: Courtpix
Patrick O'Brien with his wife Bridget arriving at the Central Criminal Court. Photo: Collins
Justice Paul Carney. Photo: Collins
Patrick O'Brien. Photo: Courtpix
Fiona Doyle, daughter of Patrick O'Brien, talking to press outside of the Central Criminal Court this week. Photo: Collins

Sarah Stack

RAPIST Patrick O’Brien was finally jailed today after a judge admitted he had made an error in sentencing that caused outrage last week.

Mr Justice Paul Carney sentenced O’Brien (72) earlier this week to 12 years in jail for the repeated rape of his daughter Fiona Doyle but allowed him out on bail to appeal.

When the case came before Justice Carney at the Central Criminal Court this morning, the judge apologised and admitted he was wrong and insensitive. He ordered that O’Brien be immediately sent to jail for the offences that occurred over a 10-year period.

"I express Ms Doyle my profound regret for the distress that has been caused to her in this case," the judge said.

He told the court he was prepared to accept his sentencing on Monday had been dealt with in a procedurally confused manner at the very least.

He said he was fully aware of the gravity of the case but that he had a mandatory obligation to take account of the health situation of the accused, who is on constant oxygen and under the care of nine consultants.

He explained that for many decades it has been the practice to grant bail when an appeal is certified, except in cases of murder.

Brendan Grehan SC, prosecuting, had earlier told the court that the judge was wrong to grant O'Brien leave to appeal because the law had changed in 2010 and the court no longer had that power.

After hearing Mr Grehan, Mr Justice Carney told the court: “The procedure I adopted was not appropriate. It was insensitive. I have absolutely no doubt or hesitation in saying that.”

“I have no hesitation in expressing my profound regret to Ms Doyle for the distress which has been caused to her in this case," he added.

"I trust that there is an appreciation that these matters are not open and shut.

“I am absolutely prepared to expect that a procedurally confused method of dealing with this case was carried out by me.”

Ms Doyle, who had waived her right to anonymity, said she accepted the judge's "regret" and felt "vindicated".

She added: “I would just like to ask my dad, as a sign of remorse, not to appeal this three-year sentence. This three-years sentence, now in his present state, is a lifetime.

"I was surprised he applied for bail, I remember thinking ' he can't do that to me', but he did. Maybe it's just him being scared of jail, I don't know, but I was happy at what happened today."

Ms Doyle stayed in the court room and watched until her father was led away using a zimmer frame to holding cells by prison officers.

She was asked how she felt watching her father being taken to prison.

"I stood there and waited until he went right through those doors," she told the Evening Herald. "I watched him go through those doors, and that was all I wanted.

Flanked by her husband Jim, son Patrick and uncle Des, Ms Doyle said her father might now feel the loneliness, lack of support and isolation she has suffered for the past 40 years.

"I have waited for this day for over 20 years since I first brought the first complaint to the gardai and the HSE," she said.

The 47-year-old urged other survivors of abuse to come forward, referring to the three years given to her father as a life sentence for him.

"Look at my face today compared to last week. I'm happy and it's been a rough ride, but it's worth it," she added.

"I'm walking away without the baggage."

Ms Doyle said she is now looking forward to her meeting next Wednesday with the Taoiseach and telling him about her hurt and the problems she found with the justice system and the issues the case brought to light.

She said everyone who sent her an email, called her, marched or even dropped an apple pie in to her home in recent days could take some responsibility for the judge's U-turn.

"I did crumble, I admit I crumbled, it picked me up and I came back," she added.

"I was overwhelmed by the support, the media support, the people of Bray," said Ms Doyle.

"It has been amazing. They picked me up and carried me the last four days, like my children and my family."

Earlier, O'Brien was heckled as he arrived at the courthouse supported by his wife Breda.

Ms Doyle, from Bray, Co Wicklow, was raped once a week for a decade from the age of eight. Her brutal ordeal began on the night before her First Holy Communion in 1973 and continued to 1982.

O'Brien, also from Bray, pleaded guilty to 16 charges of the rape and indecent assault of his daughter.

Mr Justice Carney ordered that O'Brien begin to serve three years immediately - nine years of the 12-year sentence were suspended.

After revoking bail, he said it was now open to the DPP to appeal the sentence on the grounds of undue leniency and that it is also open to the defence to appeal it on the grounds of undue severity.


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