A Galwayman who brought a shotgun to his nine year old daughter’s bedroom when he sexually abused her has been given a eleven and a half year sentence.
The man told the child he would shoot her mother if she told anyone what had happened.
His daughter, now a mother herself, said she could not imagine how anyone could hurt their child. She said she liked to believe her father did what he did because he drank too much and did not know what he was doing.
In a victim impact statement read to the court she described the effects of the abuse on her and said she had lost herself for years. She said it had taken a long time to come to terms with what had happened but she can now look to the future.
The woman described how she felt sorry for her father, who she said had lost everything because of his decisions.
“He is an old man now and probably lonely and I am just starting the rest of my life,” she wrote.
The man (65 ), who cannot be identified to protect his daughter’s identity, had denied a single count of rape and six counts of sexual assault occurring on dates between August 1991 and August 1993.
He was convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury of the offences last July. The court heard he does not accept the verdict of the jury and intends to appeal his conviction.
Mr Justice Michael Moriarty described the offences as “extremely grave” and “utterly reprehensible.” He said the woman had been exceptionally gracious towards her father despite what she had been put through.
He said it was “quite poignant” that she managed to avoid being vindictive in giving a statement of the effects of the offences on her and did not call for “a vindictive sentence.”
He took into account the circumstances of the case including the man’s work history, letters handed into court and the fact that prison would be difficult due to the accused man’s age.
Mr Justice Moriarty imposed concurrent sentences totalling 11 and a half years. He suspended the final 15 months and backdated the sentence to July when the man first went into custody.
A local garda told Sean Guerin BL, prosecuting, that the abuse began in 1991 in the child’s bedroom and her mother was away in the evenings working. She was nine years old.
The first time she was sexually assaulted her father brought a shotgun and told her not to tell anyone or he would shoot her mother. She was raped by her father on a subsequent occasion before being sexually assaulted another four or five times.
The court heard the abuse then stopped as suddenly as it started. She told another family member about the abuse in 2006, but nothing came of it at that stage.
The offences came to light in December 2012 following a family gathering. Her father was confronted but denied the offences. The garda investigation then began.
Bernard Madden SC, defending, handed in a number of testimonials on his client’s behalf. He outlined a number of health issues including high blood pressure and cholesterol detailed in a medical report. He said the accused was at significant risk for a major cardiac event in the future.
He handed in a letter from the accused man’s eldest son who said he had been shocked when the allegations came to light. He said his father had treated him fairly and he had never witnessed abuse of his siblings. He outlined his father’s involvement in sports and charity work.
Mr Madden said there had been no further allegations against his client and a probation report assessed him to be in the low risk category for re-offending.
He asked the court to take into account the man’s age and the fact a lengthy custodial sentence would be more difficult for him then it would for a younger person.
Counsel said that the accused man’s reputation and standing in the community would be tarnished due to the conviction and submitted that in itself was a form of punishment. Mr Madden asked the court for leniency.