A Laois man who “caused so much destruction” by sexually assaulting his daughter will be sentenced later this month.
Patrick Shiels (66) sexually abused and orally raped his daughter, who was aged between four and eight at the time, during visits to his home.
The Central Criminal Court heard the victim in this case, Marlene Prakash-Shiels (26), wished to waive her right to anonymity.
Shiels was found guilty of oral rape and four counts of sexual assault on various occasions between September 2000 and December 2004 at his then address in Togher, Portlaoise, Co Laois following a retrial earlier this year.
He was also found guilty of two charges of child cruelty by forcing the victim to drink alcohol and to watch pornography.
Shiels has no previous convictions. Mr Justice Tony Hunt was told that the accused does not accept the verdict of the jury.
Garda Detective Amy Duffy told Garnet Orange SC, prosecuting, that the victim was put into foster care following the death of her mother in 2001 and arrangements were in place for her to visit her father.
The victim gave evidence that incidents of sexual assault took place while lying on a bed in a mobile home where her father resided.
The court heard details of incident during which the accused made his daughter watch pornography with him and touch his penis.
Detective Duffy said the victim recalled alcohol was a consistent feature of her visits to her father, adding that he made her drink cider on one occasion.
The relationship between father and daughter broke down in 2010 and they had no contact for several years while she was a young teenager.
Shiels was convicted and jailed following a previous trial, but released from custody in July 2021 after the Court of Appeal ordered a re-trial.
In her victim impact statement, which she read to the court, Ms Prakash-Shiels said she hoped it would be the last time she would “see the face of the person who had caused so much destruction” in her life and the lives of many others.
Ms Prakash-Shiels said she spent her teenage years feeling “broken inside” and continues to suffer “devastating and horrific” flashbacks.
She has been working with professionals to get her life back, she added.
Shiels's actions conditioned her to believe she could not reach her potential, however, she said she stood in court as a person who is “not a failure”.
Ms Prakash-Shiels said many people had let her “slip through the cracks” and certain family members overlooked what was happening to her as it did not affect them directly.
She said she was asked not to pursue the case as it would bring shame and embarrassment to the family.
She was also asked to “take pity” on her father due to his alcoholism, but this had the effect of placing the burden of his actions onto her, she said.
Ms Prakash-Shiels said her mind had confused love and fear. She became scared every time she left her father that she would never see him again while he was drinking.
She said she had one parent who had passed away and a second who is alive but “dead to me”.
She had created her own loving family, she told the court, adding that she wants her children to know their mother will always protect and love them.
Her father had shown “no remorse or recognition of what he has done” despite being given many chances.
No one but alcohol
She said she feels only pity that he has “no one but alcohol” and will never have the chance to meet her amazing children.
Ms Prakash-Shiels said she wished her father and her biological family all the best, but they are no longer part of her life.
Mr Justice Hunt thanked Ms Prakash-Shiels for her eloquent statement.
Shane Murphy SC, defending, said the defendant suffers from anxiety and depression. A medical report was handed into the court.
He added that the defendant has a good work history and issues with alcoholism.
Mr Justice Hunt said there was little room for mitigation besides the lack of previous convictions as the defendant does not accept the jury's verdict.
He adjourned the case to July 22nd for sentencing.
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.