Monday 23 April 2018

Man whose neighbour allowed him to rape daughter (5) has sentence increased

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Ruaidhrí Giblin

A man whose neighbour allowed him to rape her five-year-old daughter repeatedly over a three year period has been sentenced to 14 years in prison following a finding last year by the Court of Appeal that his original eight-year-sentence was too lenient.

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan had said the man's crimes stood “on the most heinous level” of offending which involved “depravity amounting to torture”.

The Roscommon man who cannot be identified, had pleaded guilty to repeated categories of rape as well as the sexual assault of a neighbour's young daughter on dates between 2004 and 2008. Mr Justice Ryan said the victim was five-years-old when the first offence took place.

He had been sentenced By Mr Justice Paul Carney to eight years imprisonment on each of the fifteen counts of rape and five years imprisonment on five counts of sexual assault.

The sentences, which were to all run concurrently, were found to be unduly lenient by the Court of Appeal in December last year following a successful application by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mr Justice Ryan said today/yesterday(FRIDAY) that the case had to be among "the worst that the courts have considered”.

He said the man's guilty plea, though late, was given its full value. Equally, there were some mitigating circumstances such as difficulties in childhood, in schooling and the loss of a parent at a crucial stage.

However, the sentence had to be severe to meet the justice of the situation. He said a much more severe sentence could have been imposed and would “not have been set aside on appeal”

He said the minimum sentence for these horrific crimes was 14 years on each of the fifteen rape counts to run concurrently. The court did not interfere with the sexual assault charges.

Mr Justice Ryan, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice George Birmingham, emphasised that mitigating factors were taken into account and a more severe sentence could have been allowed.

In December, counsel for the DPP, Ms Caroline Biggs SC, had told the court that the victim was of particular and extreme vulnerability. Her mother was also abusing her, and she allowed the man to have access to her daughter. Her father also sexually abused her but not to the degree of her mother, Ms Biggs said.

As some of the offences were being detailed to the court, Mr Justice Ryan said the extent of the depravity visited on the child could scarcely be exaggerated. He reiterated comments by Ms Biggs that there were instances of “depravity amounting to torture”.

The court heard of “extremely depraved events” involving a dog leash before she was raped.

Mr Justice Ryan said the man had fixed on a five-year-old child and invaded her body in every possible way over the next three-and-a-half-years.

He said the offences took place between July 2004 and January 2008 until she was taken into the care of the Health Service Executive. For each year from 2004 to 2008 there was a “series of the most serious sexual crimes”, Mr Justice Ryan said.

The crimes were accompanied by instances of depravity and perversion including incidents which Mr Justice Ryan said he would “spare the court the sordid details” of.

He pleaded guilty a few days before the trial took place and was sentenced on July 31 2013.

Mr Justice Seán Ryan said the sentencing judge did not say anything about the facts of the case because other court proceedings concerning the victim were pending at the time. As a result, it was not possible to know the judge's thinking process.

It was clear, Mr Justice Ryan said, that the offences had to be placed at the highest end of the scale.

The guilty man was a neighbour who had been in a sexual relationship with the child's mother. The violations were frequent, forceful and painful and involved perverse modes of gratification. On any appraisal it stood “at the most heinous level”, Mr Justice Ryan said.

The accused was not the only person who abused this unfortunate child but that didn't affect his culpability, he said.

He said the sentencing judge fell into “grave error” by holding that a sentence of eight years for the rape charges was appropriate.

Ms Biggs had told the court that the victim's mother has since been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment with four-and-a-half suspended and her father had also pleaded guilty to similar offences.

She said the victim was anxious to maintain her anonymity and Mr Justice Ryan so ordered that the man not be identified to preserve her anonymity.

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