News Courts

Friday 19 April 2019

Man who regularly sexually abused his step-daughter claims he 'thought it was OK under Irish law', court hears

The Central Criminal Court
The Central Criminal Court

Fiona Ferguson

A man who regularly sexually abused his step-daughter in the family home while her mother was working will be sentenced next month.

The Central Criminal Court heard the 42-year-old accused man, a foreign national who admitted defilement of the child, initially thought it was “OK under Irish law” but now accepts it is not.

He was later convicted by a jury of further charges of raping his step daughter and his lawyer told the court he does not accept those verdicts.

In her victim impact statement the girl said the accused man no longer being in the house had financial and other effects on the family which she sometimes felt were her fault. She said she now suffers self esteem, worry and stress issues. She was unable to sleep and her school work suffered.

She said she had broken down when she heard the verdict. “I sometimes feel as if I am at the bottom of the ocean,” she said, “with no light at all.” She does not want to see the accused again.

Last January the man pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three counts of defilement of a child under the age of seventeen years old on dates between March and June 2017.

Following a subsequent trial he denied one count of oral rape, 12 counts of rape and three counts of defilement of the same girl on dates between 2011 and 2017. He also denied a further count of sexual exploitation of the girl in July 2017.

The jury convicted him of all these charges. The victim was aged between 11 and 16 years old at the time of the offences.

Mr Justice Michael White adjourned finalising sentence until next month.

A local garda told Vincent Heneghan SC, prosecuting, that the abuse began when the victim was 11-years-old with oral rape and the man later began having sex with her “on a highly regular basis” in the family home while the child's mother was away working.

The sexual abuse continued until June 2017 when she was 15 years old. After making a disclosure to members of her family she made a complaint to gardaí in July 2017.

The count of sexual exploitation refers to a phone call between the victim and accused man which was heard on loudspeaker by family members in July 2017 when the accused invited the child to have sex with him for €200.

The court heard the man effectively controlled the victim from the age of 12 to 17 years old in a domestic situation where he was a position of authority.

Damien Colgan SC, defending, said his client accepted what he did was wrong and stands over his guilty pleas in relation to three charges of defilement. He said the man does not accept the jury verdicts on the other counts.

He said the man had no previous convictions, a good work history and had abided by all his bail conditions. He asked the court to take into account that the man would be serving his sentence as a foreign national in an Irish prison.

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