Sunday 19 November 2017

Grandfather to serve another two years in jail for rape

Tim Healy

A GRANDFATHER who had completed a jail sentence for raping his wife’s 15-year-old niece must go back to prison in September to serve another two years, the Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) ruled yesterday.

The court gave Patrick Hegarty (69), Ross Road, Killarney, Co Kerry, until September 3 to arrange his affairs after it doubled an effective two year sentence imposed on him in February 2011 and which he has since completed.

The former pest control company employee had been sentenced to seven years with the last five suspended over the repeated rape of his  English niece on a number of occasions during a summer holiday she spent in his home in 1991.

Yesterday, following an appeal from the DPP over the leniency of that sentence, the CCA said the term should be seven years with three suspended.

The CCA also dismissed a separate application by Hegarty for leave to appeal his conviction.

In its decision increasing his sentence, the CCA said the fact that he finished the two years before the appeal was heard was unfortunately now "not wholly unusual" because of the volume of pending appeals before the court in relation to the resources available to it.

While the CCA acknowledged the hardship that would be imposed on him by having to go back to prison, it felt constrained to impose a further custodial sentence.

The appeal had been told that while on holidays the year before the offences, Hegarty began giving the then 14-year-old alcoholic drinks and pieces of jewellery, telling her to “keep it a secret”.

The following year, when she was 15, she came over from England on her own to help her aunt run the family B and B.

The abuse started during a trip in Hegarty’s car, after he had given her drink, and later he raped her in an unoccupied flat he took her to.  There were also other occasions when he abused in his car and always after he gave her drink.

Two years later, after her boyfriend informed her parents, a letter of apology written by Hegarty to the girl, saying he (Hegarty) "should have known better”, was intercepted by her father.   With family support, she eventually made a statement to gardai and he was prosecuted, tried and convicted.

In the appeal over leniency, the DPP argued there were aggravating circumstances surrounding the case, including the victim’s young age, the fact that he was an uncle who was effectively in loco parentis, along with premeditation and planning of the offences.

Hegarty’s lawyers argued that while the offences were serious, they occurred in a five week period in 1991 which appeared to be a “total aberration” in an otherwise praiseworthy life.  His wife and family had stood by him as had his employer.

The CCA said yesterday while there were certainly mitigating circumstances, a plea of guilty was not one of them.

The trial judge had, in sentencing him, erred when he took into account the inspector of prisons report in relation to the effect a jail sentence would have on a man of Hegarty’s age (then 67).

The aggravating factors of this case included that he took advantage of trust placed in him, gave her drink, and used violence and force during the rape in the flat when he tied her hands to the headboard of a bed.

The CCA said the effective two year sentence imposed on him could not be considered to be lengthy given the gravity of the offences and traumatic consequences for the girl who said in her victim impact report that what he did had left her in emotional turmoil and led to the breakdown of two marriages because she was never able to sustain a normal and loving relationship.

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