Saturday 16 December 2017

No apology as father is given 14 years in jail

Jason O'Brien

A father showed little emotion in court yesterday as he was handed down a 14-year jail term for the systematic sexual abuse of his eldest son.

The son, now 20, said afterwards that he was "happy enough" with the prison term imposed on his 52-year-old father, but would have preferred a life sentence.

He added that the sentence had brought some closure and said that he would "hopefully" now be able to get on with his life.

The young man had said in his victim impact statement earlier this week that he could not say "when my childhood began or finished because as far as I'm concerned, I never had one".

Yesterday, Mr Justice Barry White described that victim impact statement as "poignant and powerful" as the State's rapporteur on child protection Geoffrey Shannon said the children were spectacularly failed by the system.

"It would appear that the children in this case were spectacularly failed by the system," said Mr Shannon. "There are a number of questions that will need to be addressed."

The judge said that while a life sentence would not necessarily be inappropriate he believed that a fixed-length sentence was more satisfactory from the victim's and the accused person's point of view.

The father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty last month of 47 counts of rape and abuse in one of the most harrowing sex abuse cases to come before the Central Criminal Court. The offences occurred while the child was aged between 12 and 15 years old. He continues to claim he is innocent.

As he stood in the dock with his hands clasped before him, Mr Justice White told him that the "systematic sexual abuse of your eldest son" was made all the more reprehensible because of the dominant position he enjoyed as head of the family.

"It was an appalling breach of the trust of an innocent and vulnerable child," the judge said.

As the father stared resolutely ahead, Mr Justice White said that he had "shown no remorse, proffered no apology and was in denial as regards his offensive behaviour."

The only possible mitigation was his previous good character, but the judge said that many people who commit offences like this had previous good character.

He imposed a 14-year term in respect of each count of anal rape, 10 years for each count of oral rape and a three-year term in respect of the sexual assault charges. Each sentence will run concurrently, and the final 18 months of the 14-year sentence was suspended.

Sitting at the back of the courtroom, and flanked by family and friends, the young man smiled briefly as the 14-year sentence was read out. His aunt put an arm around his shoulder.

Mr Justice White refused the father leave to appeal, and said he did not believe post-release supervision was necessary in this case.

Irish Independent

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