Sunday 25 August 2019

Man charged with assaulting adopted daughter fails to stop trial

Garda Stock Photo
Garda Stock Photo

Tim Healy

A man accused of sexually assaulting his adopted daughter has failed to stop his trial.

He had claimed an 18-year time lapse between when the complaint was made and when he was charged would prejudice his case and lead to an unfair trial.

The complaint against him first emerged in 1998 when the daughter's local health board reported the alleged assaults to the gardai after she disclosed them during counselling, the High Court heard.

A garda file was created but nothing occurred on foot of the allegations until late 2014 when the daughter enquired at her local station as to what had happened to the complaint.

The garda who was originally assigned the case had gone on sick leave that same year (1998) and she (garda) resigned from the force later than year.  She has since died.

The file was not assigned to another officer at that time (1998).

Following the daughter's 2014 enquiry, the case was reassigned to another garda and a formal statement was taken from her.

The father was arrested in March 2015 and charged with two counts of sexual assault.

He then brought a High Court challenge claiming he had been denied his right to a far trial as a result of blameworthy prosecutorial delay, for which there was no legitimate excuse or explanation. 

He suffered significant prejudice given that the prosecution had been completed in 1998/99 by the garda handling the case at the time, it was also argued.

There was also the fact that relevant information was no longer available and the original investigating garda is now dead.

The DPP argued that while the case involved prosecutorial delay, it had not been shown by the man that this in itself was sufficient to give rise to a prohibition of his trial.

Mr Justice Robert Eagar, dismissing the challenge, said that often in sexual abuse cases, where there has been a long delay, there are "unsurprisingly missing witnesses and documentation".  

These did not give rise to a specific ground for the court to hold the trial would be inevitably unfair, he said.

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