Twenty-three character references were presented to a court from family, friends, and community members on behalf of a man convicted of sexually assaulting three teenage girls.
Vincent Williams (41) of Mountain Park, Tallaght, Dublin was convicted after a trial last October of five counts of sexual assault of the children at his home on an unknown date in late 2012 and on October 29th, 2016.
Williams had pleaded not guilty and Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard on Friday that he continues to deny the offending.
The references handed into court described the father of five as a dedicated, honest, and trustworthy character. A probation report was also presented to the court, which stated that he was at low risk of reoffending.
Garda Oran Forest told the court that all three victims were friends of William's daughter at the time. Two of the victims were aged 16 when Williams molested them when they were at his home for a sleepover on the night of October 29th, 2016.
Williams and his wife had gone out to a party. When they came home the girls stayed up with the couple chatting and dancing.
One girl found herself in the kitchen alone with Williams when he put his arm around her waist, moved it under her clothes and touched her breasts.
Later on the second girl woke up to find Williams standing over her with his hand down her top, under her bra and squeezing her breasts with one hand.
When the victim asked him to stop Williams asked her if she wanted a drink. She replied no and attempted to go back to sleep. A few minutes later Williams returned and once again put his hand down her top and touched her breasts.
The court heard that Williams was interrupted as one of his younger children ran into the room. Williams left that room but returned later and molested the teenager again.
The victim told Williams to stop, but he replied no. The victim got dressed and left the house, telling William's daughter that her mother had called her and told her to come home.
A third girl was aged only 12 to 13 when Williams assaulted her in his family home during a sleepover on a date between September 2012 and December 2013.
The victim woke in the middle of the night to find Williams standing over her with his hand underneath her underwear and molesting her.
Sinead McMullen BL, prosecuting, read two of the three victim impact statements to the court on behalf of the victims.
During the first victim impact statement, the court heard she had been a carefree teen but now had a dark cloud around her. She stated that "fathers are meant to protect, not take advantage of young girls".
She told Williams, "your actions shattered the world around me".
The second victim told the court that she always feels ashamed “like he took a piece of me”, stating that she carries the damage of the assault with her every day.
Defending counsel Keith Spencer BL told the court that his client is a very involved father and that all his children are thriving. In addition, he has a very productive work life and has been employed by the same company for over 25 years.
Twenty-three character references were presented to the court from family, friends, and community members on behalf of Williams, outlining his dedicated, honest, and trustworthy character.
Judge Pauline Codd paid tribute to all three victims, who she said conducted themselves with great insight and maturity throughout the trial process. She noted the abuse had had a devastating impact on all of their lives and commended the young ladies for coming forward.
Judge Codd said that the aggravating factors were the breach of trust and the offering of alcohol to children.
She said she also had to take into consideration that mitigating factors, including the absence of previous convictions, and his good work history. She also noted Williams is the main provider for his family and support for his wife, who has a medical need.
Jude Codd handed down a four and a half year sentence. She suspended the final year under certain conditions, including that he have no direct or indirect contact with any of the victims and have no unsupervised contact with any children other than his own.
She also placed under the supervision of the Probation Service for one year after his release from prison.
The court heard that the victims wanted Williams to be identified publicly. Defence counsel objected and submitted that identifying Williams would unfairly affect his family who were also suffering and were innocent of any crimes.
Judge Codd said that Williams had brought this on his own head but said she did not condone any inappropriate behaviour towards an innocent family. She said she understood that his family is also suffering but said she was permitting the publication of his name.