Tuesday 23 January 2018

Victim devastated after attacker avoids prison to care for autistic sons

Declan Brennan

A rape victim has said she is devastated by a judge's decision to let her attacker walk free from court in order to look after his special needs children.

Niall Counihan (52) of Springlawns, Longford, was given a suspended sentence after a judge ruled that imprisonment would impose extreme hardship on the rapist's family.

Two of his young sons have autism and require 24-hour care and attention.

Following a four-day trial in February, Counihan was convicted by a jury at the Central Criminal Court of raping the victim on two occasions and of indecently assaulting her on two other occasions over an eight-month period between September 1985 and May 1986.

Last Friday, Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan suspended a seven-year prison sentence on the rape charges after ruling that it was in the interest of society and of the man's family that his family unit was "preserved and supported" because of the level of care required by the children.

APPEAL

Speaking publicly for the first time, the woman (41) said: "He never showed any remorse.

"He had four years from when I first went to gardai and he has never admitted what he did or apologised to me," she said.

"What he did has affected every aspect of my life. It left me with a pain, trauma, loss and sadness that I continue to feel every day."

She said she hoped that the Director of Public Prosecutions would appeal the sentence because of Counihan's release.

She said: "He should be in jail. If you commit a crime you should be punished and you shouldn't get off because just because your circumstances have changed. This is not justice."

Irish Independent

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