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Victim devastated after rapist avoids jail to care for kids

A RAPE victim has said she is devastated by a judge's decision to allow 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 his family.



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

Following a four-day trial in February, the man 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 between September 1985 and May 1986.

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

Speaking publicly for the first time, the victim has said that she wants Counihan identified in the media and called for his sentence to be appealed.

She 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.

"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".



The now 41-year-old woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was 14 when Counihan molested and raped her.

She was babysitting at the man's house when he came into the upstairs box room where she was sleeping.

In another two incidents Counihan sexually assaulted her but stopped when he heard a noise from downstairs.

The woman said she was delighted when a jury found Counihan guilty of raping her but was then left devastated by Friday's judgement.

She believes the judge gave more weight to the mitigating factors that to the effect the rapes had on her.

The judge noted that since the man was remanded in custody last February, his current partner of eight years has been left to care for two autistic children who require 24-hour care.

A report from her GP stated that this was putting a "huge strain" on her.

A report from a teacher of one boy, who has a severe form of autism, said his behaviour has rapidly deteriorated since his father's imprisonment.