Friday 15 December 2017

Mother denies telling daughter to keep quiet about abuse by father

Catherine Smith.
Catherine Smith.
Ailish Smith.

Tim Healy

THE mother of a woman who was abused by her father from the age of two to 12 has denied encouraging her daughter not to tell anyone about it.

Gerard Smith was sentenced in 2006 to six years' imprisonment, with a further two suspended, after he had pleaded guilty to five sample charges.

These related to abuse of his daughter Ailish in the 1980s at times when his wife Catherine was out of the house.

Ailish Smith has waived her right to anonymity so that her father can be named.

Yesterday, Catherine Smith denied Ailish's claim that she had told her daughter not to tell anyone about the abuse. She also denied telling her: "It was not that bad, he did not rape you."

Such a claim, she said, was "absolutely not true", adding: "I did not say that to my daughter... it is an utter lie."

Ailish Smith (38), of Templeview Lawn, Clarehall, Dublin, has brought a High Court action for damages for sexual assault against her father, Gerard Smith, of Magenta Hall, Santry, Dublin.

Liability in the case is not being contested, but the defence argues that the case has been brought outside of the time limit.

The court heard that the abuse, which she first reported to the gardai in 2004, had a devastating effect on Ailish.

She told the court that her father was a violent man and that she was afraid of him.

Yesterday, Catherine Smith told the court she was shocked and appalled when she first learned in 1990 that her daughter had been abused by her husband.

The then 17-year-old ran away from home, leaving a note for her mother, saying: "Ask Dad what he did to me on the days you were not there."

Ailish was brought back to the family home that evening.

Catherine Smith said that it took her a few days to fully accept the allegations and that that day "was etched in her mind forever".

She denied encouraging Ailish not to tell anyone about the abuse. The only person Mrs Smith said she told Ailish not to tell was her husband's brother.

She said that she was in court to give evidence not on her husband's behalf but for herself.


Mrs Smith said she did not know what to do. She believed at the time that she was a bad mother and feared that "police would take my children away from me".

She also rejected claims that she threatened to have Ailish put into a psychiatric hospital.

Mrs Smith said that she gave evidence against her husband during the criminal trial because a wrong had been committed against Ailish and she would not allow a second wrong to be committed.

She accepted that her husband had transferred the family home into her sole name last year and that the mortgage had been paid off some years ago with proceeds from her husband's Guinness pension.

Yesterday the court also heard from psychiatrist Professor Patricia Casey who said, in her opinion, one of the main reasons Ailish had not reported the abuse sooner was the lack of support she received from her mother.

Evidence concluded yesterday and Mr Justice Eamon de Valera adjourned the action to later this month, when written legal submissions are to be furnished from both parties.

Irish Independent

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