Patrick O’Brien has been sentenced to 12 years imprisonment with the final three suspended for raping his daughter, Fiona Doyle, following a finding by the Court of Appeal that his original sentence was lenient.
The 74-year-old had pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to 16 sample counts of rape and indecent assault of his daughter, Ms Doyle, at Mackintosh Park, Pottery Road in Dun Laoighaire in the 1970s and 80s.
Under the original sentence, Ms Doyle said her father would have been due for release in April this year, having served two years and three months.
The new sentence means he will have to serve three times the original jail term.
The previous sentencing judge, Mr Justice Paul Carney, had described O’Brien’s abuse of his daughter as one of the worst cases one could possibly find.
Taking account of his health problems, Mr Justice Carney sentenced O’Brien to 12 years in prison, suspended the final nine and granted him bail pending an appeal. Bail was taken from him a few days later, the court has heard.
Following a review of his sentence, the Court of Appeal stated last week that despite serious illness and advanced age, O’Brien cannot be considered a person for whom prison would be “impossible to tolerate”.
President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan cited case law to state there was no rule which prevents those who are ill from being sent to prison.
Following a short hearing in the Court of Appeal today, Mr Justice Ryan said the appropriate sentence was indeed 12 years but the period of suspension ought to be three years instead of nine.
The court imposed a new sentence of 12 years with the final 3 suspended on O’Brien, who appeared before the court with the assistance of a mobility aid.
Last week when the Court of Appeal gave their reason to extend the detention term, Ms Doyle said: “Age and health was not an issue when he was abusing me so I don’t see why it should be an issue now.”
O’Brien began abusing his daughter the night before she made her First Communion and the abuse continued until she was 16. The abuse continued regularly and frequently so that it became routine.
Ms Doyle said the ruling of the Court of Appeal will give hope to other victims.
“It gives hope to other victims, and despair to other paedophiles out there. I hope they will always be looking over their shoulder, that us survivors, they have us the adults we are today.
“We’ve had to fight all our lives and battle to get through and they’ve made us the strong people we are today.
“You will always be looking over your shoulder because one day your victim will find a voice and will come forward,” she added.
She said she still struggled with the legacy of her shattered childhood.
“I’m still in counselling, I still battle flashbacks, I still battle nightmares and I still battle certain issues and that will go on for the rest of my life. So him serving two years and three months compared to the sentence I’m serving is very unbalanced.”