News Courts

Friday 14 December 2018

'You are letting them away with a free rape' - victim slams concurrent sentencing as sex offender jailed for 17 years

  • Patrick O'Dea (51) pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault and rape on dates in 1994 and 1995
  • Victim waives anonymity so sex offender can be named
  • Court hears harrowing details of abuse suffered by Leona O'Callaghan
  • Leona O'Callaghan reads powerful victim impact statement: 'His warped version of love equals pain stayed with me my whole life'
Rape victim Leona O'Callaghan who has set up Survivors Support Anonomous to help people who have suffered abuse. Photograph Liam Burke Press 22
Rape victim Leona O'Callaghan who has set up Survivors Support Anonomous to help people who have suffered abuse. Photograph Liam Burke Press 22

Sonya McLean, Declan Brennan and Conor McCrave

A Limerick woman who addressed her rapist in court has said he “forever messed with my mind” and his “warped version of love equals pain” stayed with her all her life.

Leona O'Callaghan (37) waived her right to anonymity so Patrick O'Dea (51), also known as “Whacker”, could be named.

O'Dea, of Pike Avenue, Limerick, pleaded guilty on the second day of his trial at the Central Criminal Court to charges of sexual assault and rape on dates in 1994 and 1995. Ms O'Callaghan was 13 years old at the time.

He has 42 previous convictions including a 15 year sentence for multiple rape and sexual assaults of two complainants over a six year period between 1998 and 2004.

Speaking to the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan on RTÉ's Claire Byrne programme, Ms O'Callaghan said rapists who are given concurrent sentences for raping more than one victim are essentially getting away with a "free rape".

"When two separate people are raped and two crimes have occurred, it feels as though one of those rapes is kind of a free one when the concurrent thing comes up.

Photo of Patrick 'Whacker' O’Dea from Limerick Photograph Press 22
Photo of Patrick 'Whacker' O’Dea from Limerick Photograph Press 22

"So for example, the 15 years that he got for another girl will run the same time as [mine] and I'm just wondering which one of us was the free rape?"

In response, Mr Flanagan said he was open to reviewing the system but "it is open to the court when you have a consecutive sentence or a concurrent sentence having regard to the circumstances of the case".

"I don't as minister interfere with the independence of the judge's as far as the imposition of a sentence is concerned," he added.

Ms O'Callaghan also told of the emotional turmoil she experienced in the past four years since first giving her victim impact statement up to Mr O'Dea's sentencing today.

Leona O'Callaghan (37) speaks to the media outside the Central Criminal Court in Dublin Photo: Laura Hutton/Collins Photo Agency
Leona O'Callaghan (37) speaks to the media outside the Central Criminal Court in Dublin Photo: Laura Hutton/Collins Photo Agency

"I am barely able to turn around after four years since I've given my statement, where I had to put it away in a box, take it back out, look at the horrible disgusting detail.

"That's four long years of my life that I won't get back - where my kids didn't have a stable mum, where I was in and out of hospital, where there were a number of suicide attempts, where I wasn't well and that process is so difficult."

O'Dea isolated her from her friends over time and continued a relationship with her, having first raped her in a local graveyard.

The court heard that following the first incident of rape, Ms O'Callaghan sat on a basin of ice in her bedroom to help stop the bleeding and swelling. O'Dea met with her a few days later and pulled her away from her friends. He complained that she had gotten blood on his jacket and that he had to get it dry cleaned.

Ms O'Callaghan recalled to gardaí that he told her she had bled because she was a virgin and he promised it would not hurt as much the next time. He told her her “virginity was a wall” and that the bleeding had been “breaking down the wall”.

Today Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy sentenced O'Dea to 18 and half years in prison.

She suspended the final 18 months of the term on condition O'Dea engage with the “Building Better Lives” sex offender treatment programme. She imposed a three year post-release supervision order on O'Dea.

The judge said that O'Dea isolated and manipulated the woman. She said his abuse of her had done enormous damage to her psyche.

Ms O'Callaghan said O'Dea was the first man who told her he loved her and said that he manipulated her into believing “the disgusting things you did to me, you did out of love”.

“This forever messed with my mind and your warped version of love equals pain remained in my life long after you left it,” Ms O'Callaghan said.

Speaking of the first time he forced sex on her, Ms O'Callaghan said “after using my small innocent body to satisfy your own needs you sent me home bleeding, sore, confused, ashamed, traumatised and sworn to secrecy”.

She spoke of sitting in a basin of ice to help with the swelling and “immense pain I was in”.

“The memory of silently sitting in that basin of bloodstained ice wondering if the bleeding would ever stop was one of the hardest memories you gave me,” Ms O'Callaghan said.

She described repeatedly attempting suicide and self -harming.

“You were there in my mind every time I took a blade to my body to hurt and cut myself hundreds of times to punish myself for the horrible person I became.

“You were there in my mind on the three occasions I slit my wrists and took tablet after tablet to try to die and finally let all this be over. One of those times was in the graveyard where you raped me for the first time.

“I wanted all the pain to end where the pain began. My sister found me eight hours later overdosed with slit wrists still in that graveyard praying for God to just take me and take the pain I was in.

“You were there in my thoughts a year later when I jumped into the river, my body being torn by undercurrents and over currents as I tried to drown myself along with the memories you had embedded in my brain. I wrote you a letter that day just before I jumped to say you win and I give up.”

She said the worst damage O'Dea did to her was not to her body but to her mind.

“In order to get me to a place where I would keep your dirty secrets, you isolated me from the people I loved and got inside my mind in a way I still don't full understand. You alienated me from my friends telling me that they were all saying nasty things about me when my back was turned.

“Today I peel off that mask of a life only me and you know about. My voice may tremble but I stand here revealing our secrets that you had me carry and that I hated myself for. When it comes to self hatred this is where most of the damage you did to me hurt me.

“You weren't just there in a dark scary graveyard invading my body, you were also there in the mirror when I looked at myself. I hated myself and the dirty person that you made me feel I was, that nobody cared about,” Ms O'Callaghan said.

Ms O'Callaghan also spoke of how the abuse caused her problems in her later relationships with her partners and her children.

“You were there in my mind when I thought saying no to anything sexual wasn't even an option whether I wanted it or not. You were there between the sheets when my skin often crawled when my husband tried to touch me, be intimate or make love to me.

“When I did manage to overcome this and try to be a normal woman and be intimate you were there the following day when I felt like a dirty slut and felt unjustified anger against my husband.

“I often wonder what kind of mother I would be and what kind of childhood my kids would have had if you had not raped, molested and manipulated me. My kids would have had a better life if you hadn't messed my mind up.

“If it wasn't for you I would have been a better mum, a better wife, a better daughter, sister and friend. Instead, I am often the messed up broken person that you made me and there are still more days than not that I hate who I am.”

Ms O'Callaghan spoke of how she feels now she can move on.

“The real me is warm and caring but you made me a fighter, you gave me anger and hatred and sadness and fear and isolation and shame and guilt and loneliness. Today I give this back as it belongs with you.

“It is only in the past two years that I have learned that ending the pain is possible without ending my life. That there is possibly a way of putting all this behind me. A way of handing you back the guilt, the shame, the secrets, the self hatred and distrust that should never have been mine to carry.”

Finally Ms O'Callaghan turned to O'Dea while reading the last few paragraphs of her victim impact statement.

“Whacker, I stand here today and reluctantly give you your last bit of power by admitting that yes you did manage to tear me down and impact my life more than any other person I've ever known.

“However I do not just stand here as a victim, I stand as a survivor who is strong, kind and trying their very best to begin a life you held back from me for many years. I have three amazing kids that I see every day.

“I'm proud that despite you I survived the childhood trauma at your hand. I got 515 points in my leaving cert, worked hard, set up my own businesses and I remain an honest, loving person with integrity.

“I'm becoming the mother my kids deserve to have and my future is looking brighter. So in a nutshell, despite standing here with my heart on my sleeve and admitting the affect you have had on me, let me be clear, you did not win.”

Evidence

Earlier, the court heard how Patrick O'Dea (51), also known as 'Whacker', of Pike Avenue, Limerick, pleaded guilty on the second day of his trial at the Central Criminal Court to charges of sexual assault and rape on dates in 1994 and 1995.

Leona O'Callaghan waived her right to anonymity so O'Dea could be named in reporting the case.

The court heard that following the first incident of rape, Ms O'Callaghan sat on a basin of ice in her bedroom to help stop the bleeding and swelling.

O'Dea met with her a few days later and pulled her away from her friends. He complained that she had gotten blood on his jacket and he said he had to get it dry cleaned.

Ms O'Callaghan later recalled that he told her she had bled because she was a virgin and he promised it would not hurt as much the next time. He told her her "virginity was a wall" and that the bleeding had been "breaking down the wall".

O'Dea has 42 previous convictions including a 15 year sentence for multiple rape and sexual assaults of one girl over a six year period between 1998 and 2004.

Today, Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy imposed a sentence of 18 and a half years on O'Dea. She suspended the last 18 months in recognition of his the plea of guilty and his willingness to take part in a psychological assessment.

This assessment places O'Dea at an above average risk of sexual reoffending and states that he has no real insight into the damage caused by his above crimes.

Ms Justice Murphy suspended the 18 months on condition O'Dea engage with the "Building Better Lives" sex offender treatment programme. She imposed a post release supervision order on O'Dea of three years.

The judge said that O'Dea isolated and manipulated the victim. She said his abuse of her has done enormous damage to her psyche.

Garda Barry Manton told Garnet Orange SC, prosecuting that O'Dea came into contact with Ms O'Callaghan while she was hanging out with her older sister and that girl's friends in the Garryowen area of Limerick.

Ms O'Callaghan later told gardaí that O'Dea "latched himself onto the group" and started to focus on her, giving her special attention. He first sexually assaulted her at a local waste ground where he touched her breasts after kissing her.

He told her he had wanted to "touch them for a long time".

O'Dea sexually abused Ms O'Callaghan in a similar way again before he began to worry that they may be seen together and suggested instead they meet in a local graveyard.

Gda Manton said in Halloween 1994 he asked her to perform oral sex on him. She tried to do it but she stopped and refused to do it again. O'Dea stormed off.

He then raped her in the graveyard, after putting his coat under a tree and telling her to lie down on it.

She tried to get back up but he got hold of her hands and she continued to say she didn't want to.

She was frightened when she saw the bleeding, which was when he got the basin of ice.

O'Dea had sex with her again. On one occasion her sister became aware they were meeting so he suggested they meet at a shed at the back of his mother's home.

He had sex with her there after laying her down on a mattress.

Gda Manton said in 1996 O'Dea told Ms O'Callaghan he wanted to see what it was like to have sex in a bed.

He then had sex with her in his bedroom while his mother was in the sitting room. This was the final incident.

Gda Manton said Ms O'Callaghan told a teacher what was going on and her parents were contacted.

Paddy McGrath SC, defending, asked Ms Justice Murphy to accept his client's plea of guilty as an indication of his remorse, "an acceptance of his wrong doing".

He said it is O'Dea's opinion that he was neither physically or emotionally abusive to the victim but accepts that his behaviour was "wholly inappropriate and exploitative".

Mr McGrath said his client grew up in Limerick city and was always small in stature possibly due to malnourishment.

Ms O'Callaghan addressed O'Dea as she read her victim impact statement in court.

She turned to O'Dea while reading the last few paragraphs of her victim impact statement.

“Whacker' I stand here today and reluctantly give you your last bit of power by admitting that yes you did manage to tear me down and impact my life more than any other person I've ever known.

“However I do not just stand here as a victim, I stand as a survivor who is strong, kind and trying their very best to begin a life you held back from me for many years. I have three amazing kids that I see every day¨

“I'm proud that despite you I survived the childhood trauma at your hand. I got 515 points in my leaving cert, worked hard, set up my own businesses and I remain an honest, loving person with integrity.

“I'm becoming the mother my kids deserve to have and my future is looking brighter.

"So in a nut shell, despite standing here with my heart on my sleeve and admitting the affect you have had on me, let me be clear, you did not win.”

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