By Sonya McLean and Fiona Ferguson
A man who abused his 12-year-old stepdaughter has had the final two years of a 15-year sentence suspended after undertaking to actively engage in therapeutic supports including anger management.
The 32-year-old man was convicted earlier this year by a Central Criminal Court jury of continually beating and twice raping his stepdaughter.
The court heard the man had told the child he would find her and kill her if he went to jail.
Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy had said at a previous sentencing hearing in October that the accused was a “dangerous young man” who was physically powerful, and it was in his and society's interest that he address his anger issues. She imposed a 15-year sentence on the accused on that date.
She had indicated that she would consider suspending the final two years if he availed of anger management treatment while in prison and refrained from contacting the victim in perpetuity.
On Friday Ronan Munro SC, defending, told the court that his client was willing to give an undertaking to the court to avail of anger management therapy and actively engage in other therapeutic support available to him, as well as staying away from the victim.
Contempt of court
The accused told the court he understood that these conditions would be both conditions of the suspension of the two years and also an undertaking to the court, which if breached would be a contempt of court, carrying an unlimited period of imprisonment.
The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, was found guilty by a jury on one charge of assault causing harm, six charges of child cruelty involving assault, three charges of sexual assault and two charges of rape on dates between September 2019 and May 2020.
Ms Justice Murphy on Friday suspended the final two years of the sentence on conditions including that he stay away from and not have any contact with the victim in perpetuity; as well as that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour, including during any period of temporary release and for two years after his final release.
A further condition is that he comply with all directions of the probation service in relation to engaging in any steps or course of therapy which facilities rehabilitation while in custody and during the period of the suspension.
A final condition is that he undertake an oath to actively take all reasonable steps to abide by any directions of the probation service and engage in anger management and related therapeutic courses including all psychological supports available while in custody.
Ms Justice Murphy remarked that she hoped services will be made available to him and that it is in everyone's interests that they are.
At the original sentence hearing earlier in October, the court heard the accused man served a ten-year term in his native country after he was convicted of killing his former girlfriend and was released from prison on condition that he not leave his home country until January 2022.
He came to Co 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.
Detective Garda Sheena Dowling of the Divisional Protective Services Unit in Cork 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. She 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.
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.