Monday 19 February 2018

Sex abuser's daughter pleads with judge not to jail father

David Raleigh

A COURT has heard today that a woman sexually abused and beaten as a child by her father has written to the courts asking that her father not be jailed.

The shocking details of years of abuse suffered by Sheila Ryan at the hands of her father Oliver Haskett were disclosed at his sentencing last week.

Ms Ryan (36), from Limerick, who has waived her right to anonymity, told gardai she was sexually abused by her father from the age of five. She was also chastised and beaten by him for incorrectly pronouncing words.

At Mr Haskett's sentencing hearing earlier today it was heard that Ms Ryan was "shocked" after learning that her father had been placed in custody last week on remand until his sentencing.

Presiding judge Carroll Moran, Limerick Circuit Court, adjourned the matter until later today to study Ms Ryan's letter.

Defence barrister, Pat Barriscale, said: "Mr Haskett is very grateful to his daughter for the sentiments she expressed (in the letter)."

The court previously heard how some of the abuse inflicted by Ms Ryan's father took place in a downstairs bedroom of a bed and breakfast which her parents once ran in Adare.

In her victim impact statement, the victim said she tried to kill herself during the "darkest days" of her life from the ages of 13 to 23.

She said her father was a control freak who would correct her and abuse her for little mistakes.

After being chastised and beaten she was sexually abused by her father in her parents’ bed.

Mr Haskett also took photographs of his daughter when she was naked.

Evidence was heard how Haskett would also "French-kiss" his daughter when she was aged 14 and would undress and touch her.

The court heard how Ms Ryan's mother would keep a "bold list" which was given to her husband at the end of each day, when he would administer punishment.

Haskett was arrested after he wrote a letter to his daughter in September 2008 in which he apologised for abusing her.

Mr Barriscale said his client had sold an investment property for €166,000, which he gave to his daughter in recognition of the wrong he has caused her. He also told the court his client had received treatment at the Granada Institute.

Ms Ryan, who is now married with children, said she still suffers from depression and recalled how she has also battled eating disorders and difficulties with alcohol.

The mother of two said she was "physically, emotionally and sexually abused by her father" during a dysfunctional childhood, which she said her mother facilitated.

Judge Carroll Moran said that it was a very difficult case and "particularly serious" as it involved the abuse by a father of his daughter.

Judge Moran has already said there would be a prison sentence in the case but adjourned sentencing until October 24 as he had quite a lot to consider.

He ordered that Haskett's name be included on the Register for Sex Offenders, with the period to be determined at today's hearing.

The 61-year-old, formerly of Foynes, Kilcornan and Adare, but now with an address in Westbury, Corbally, Co Clare, has pleaded guilty to 12 counts of indecent assault of his daughter, Sheila Ryan, between January 1988 and December 31, 1990 and to a further 20 counts of sexual assault between January 1991 and December 1995.

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