A man who strangled his ex-girlfriend to death in his native country will be sentenced later for continually beating and twice raping his 12-year-old stepdaughter.
The 32-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, served a 10-year term after he was convicted of killing his former girlfriend. He was released from prison on condition that he not leave his native EU state until January 2022.
He came to County Cork in 2019, met the child’s mother and married her two months later. The child had not met the man, as she was away with her father at the time and was introduced to him for the first time at the end of summer 2019 when he had moved into the family home she shared with her mother.
An investigating officer told Lorcan Staines SC, prosecuting, that gardaí were called to the family home in May 2020 after a neighbour alerted them to a domestic incident there.
On arrival officers noticed that the child had a cut and bruising to the bridge of her nose and had bruised eyes. Her mother, the accused and the child all claimed that she had sustained the injuries after she had fallen down the stairs.
Gardaí returned to the house that same evening to check on the welfare of the child and one officer spoke to the child alone in the kitchen. The teenager again re-iterated that she had hurt herself having fallen down the stairs but later rolled up the sleeve of a jumper to reveal a large bruise to her arm.
She admitted the accused man had hurt her and showed the garda further bruising. The girl was taken from the home that evening and put in emergency care. She has not returned since and is now living with an adoptive family.
The garda told Mr Staines that the child was taken to a garda station where she was questioned by specialist garda interviewers. She initially only spoke of a number of incidents of being beaten by the man but later passed a note to say that she had also been sexually abused.
She was interviewed a second time during which she disclosed three episodes of sexual assault and two incidents of rape by the accused in April 2020.
The man pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to a number of charges of child cruelty which involved the assault of a child, assault causing harm, sexual assault and rape at the home in Co. Cork on dates between September 2019 and May 2020.
Last July, a jury convicted him on one charge of assault causing harm, six charges of child cruelty involving assault, three charges of sexual assault and two charges or rape. The man has been on remand in custody since June 2020.
Ronan Munro SC, defending, confirmed to Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy that his client still maintains his innocence.
He submitted that as a foreign national in an Irish prison, the man will find his time in custody more difficult than other inmates.
Mr Munro suggested to the court, that given that the child is fearful of meeting her step-father again, his client will undertake to leave Ireland on completion of his sentence if the judge chooses to suspend a proportion of his sentence on condition that he never return to this country again.
Ms Justice Murphy said she needed time to consider the case and adjourned sentencing until October 22, next.
The investigating garda told Mr Staines that the child was examined by a doctor at the garda station and found to have a suspected broken nose, swollen eyes, a large bruise on her arm, bruises on her outer thigh, two bruises above her knee, one below her knee and more bruises on her legs.
A later follow-up medical examination confirmed that she had injuries to have vaginal area consistent with her account of being raped twice.
The girl told gardaí that in September 2019, she returned home late from school and the man slapped her on the cheek, making her fall and bang her head against a wall.
In April 2020, the man was annoyed because the child had spoken to social workers so he boxed her. That same evening, he got angry with her for picking out clothes which he said showed bad fashion sense and he hit her over the head with a plastic bottle.
In May 2020, he pushed her while she was in the sitting room, causing her to fall and hit her face off the arm rest of a couch, which caused the injury to her nose. When she began to cry, he repeatedly slapped her on the back.
The child’s mother also began crying and the man poured a container of water over both her head and her mother’s.
On another occasion he told her to go to her bedroom. He followed her up and punched her in her left thigh and arm a number of times while telling her that she should not be alive. He asked her why she did not die in her mother’s womb.
On the final occasion, he punched her for 30 minutes after he claimed she was not treating her mother with respect. Both he and her mother then left the house for cigarettes but when he returned, he resumed punching the child for a further 30 minutes.
The 12-year-old also outlined three incidences of sexual assault and two of rape to the gardaí.
She said following the first incident of rape, the accused promised he would never do it again and the child reminded him of this when he began raping her on the second occasion.
The first time he raped her, the child’s mother had just left the house, the second time the woman was downstairs. Following each incident, the man instructed the child to have a shower.
Neighbours also made statements to gardaí describing the child as being a polite and friendly girl who displayed a talent for football. One family said their daughter was very close with the girl and they brought the girl to GAA training and matches.
But neighbours noticed a change in the child after the accused moved into the family home. They said she stopped playing outside, stopped playing football and moved school. She was never outside without the accused.
One person witnessed the man pinning the girl against a wall and described the girl as “having left her own body to protect herself. She had a blank stare on her face”.
A victim impact statement from the child’s adoptive mother was read into court. She described her as an amazing young teenager who loves art, GAA, music, singing and Harry Potter. She said the child was a “cosmic ray of sunshine” in their family’s life but said she has an ongoing fear for her own safety and a fear of men.
She said the teenager has a constant need to listen to music to occupy her mind and a constant need to self-validate and can only sleep with lights on.
A statement from the girl’s social worker said the girl is now living in “a nurturing environment and getting the childhood she deserves”. She described her as a young child with “great determination, strength and resilience”.
The now 13-year-old’s own victim impact statement, read into the record by Mr Staines, said that she was beaten up, kicked, punched and raped by the man and she didn’t know what she could do.
She said he told her if he went to jail, he would find her and kill her. She said her mother was no help to her and she had no one to trust.
She described now being uncomfortable around sexual matters and uncomfortable when she has to take her clothes off. She said doesn’t want a relationship with men and doesn’t want to have children.
“My parents didn’t protect me like they should have,” the girl stated.
“I felt I was not good enough and it would make me feel depressed and sad,” the girl said before she described how fearful she would be when the school bell rang because she knew it was time to return home.
She said she is happy now and thanked the gardaí who came to her home and helped her.
Mr Staines told Ms Justice Murphy that the DPP view the offences as lying within the highest range of such offending.