A 46-year-old father, who was jailed for 13 years for repeatedly raping his young daughter, is seeking more time to launch a bid to overturn his conviction.
The man – who cannot be identified in order to protect the identity of his victim – was convicted by a jury in February 2019 of three counts of sexual assault and nine counts of anal rape against his daughter between 2008 and 2014. His victim was seven-years-old when the attacks began.
Although the man had pleaded not guilty to the charges, he failed to lodge an appeal within the 28-day limit.
He has since lodged an Enlargement of Time application with the Court of Appeal regarding his attempt to appeal both the conviction and jail term imposed by Ms Justice Tara Burns at the Central Criminal Court in March 2019.
On Thursday, Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, for the appellant, told the three-judge court that it was in the “interests of justice” to grant his client’s application and hear the appeal.
His client, counsel said, was “serving a long prison sentence” for crimes he has claimed to this day that he did not commit. “He has long asserted his innocence,” Mr Ó Lideadha added.
Mr Ó Lideadha told the court that a signed affidavit from his client showed that he believed he had instructed his solicitors to lodge an appeal in the “aftermath” of the trial ending, but it was not until October 2019 – several months after the time limit to lodge an appeal had expired – that the man learned that a Notice of Appeal had not been lodged by his solicitor.
However, it took him another 12 months to instruct his new lawyers that he wanted to lodge an appeal.
Although Mr Ó Lideadha acknowledged that granting an appeal more than three years after the conviction could “give rise to stress and difficulty” for the victim, he said there were “particularly extreme circumstances at play” in the case.
Mr Ó Lideadha explained his client has a number of “complaints” regarding the cross-examination of the complainant during the trial and that a transcript of the proceedings was required by his legal team to assist them formulate the grounds of appeal.
“This court has the responsibility to ensure there hasn’t been a miscarriage of justice,” he added.
During submissions, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy – who was hearing the application along with Court President Mr Justice George Birmingham and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy – said legal teams in the past had been able to identify appeal grounds without access to the trial transcript.
Paul Carroll SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), told the court there were no “cogent grounds” for an appeal and justice would not be served if the application was granted.
The man’s former solicitor, counsel said, had explained “matters” to the man in “black and white” terms in October 2019 and yet it took him more than a year to find and instruct new solicitors.
“That year seems wholly unjustifiable and in itself would justify this court to not allow the extension,” Mr Carroll said.
In a separate affidavit, the man’s previous solicitor said he told his former client there were insufficient grounds for appeal but if he still wanted to challenge the jury’s verdict, he should find new lawyers to help him.
The solicitor also advised the man that the necessary documentation required to lodge an appeal was available from the prison authorities, and he should ask a prison officer for the forms.
Reserving judgment, Mr Justice Birmingham said the court has decided “with some hesitation” to grant the man’s lawyers access to a transcript of the evidence given by complainant at the trial.
The case has been adjourned until June 24th.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800 77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help.
In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.