A man who repeatedly sexually abused his partner's daughter over a two-year period when she was a child has been jailed for 12 years.
The 59-year-old Limerick man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victim, was found guilty by a jury of all 31 counts against him involving sexual assault, oral rape, attempted rape and attempted anal rape of the girl at various locations in Limerick on dates between 1994 and 1997.
The guilty verdicts were handed down by a jury following a one-week trial in the Central Criminal Court last November.
The complainant in the case was aged between 12 and 14 at the time of the abuse, while the man was in his thirties. He has one previous conviction for drink-driving.
Sentencing on Monday, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said the offences had been “an appalling breach of trust” of the girl and by extension, of the girl’s mother. He said the offences had occurred in the family home where the girl was entitled to feel safe and protected.
He said there had been a degree of cultivation and the man had taken full advantage of his position in the household. He noted the injured party had suffered devastating and life-long consequences.
The judge noted there were “not many” mitigating features as there was no acceptance of the offending, so remorse did not arise. He said, however, that the accused had since lived a largely blameless life and provided financial support to his family.
Mr Justice McDermott imposed concurrent sentences totalling 12 years and ordered six years post-release supervision, during which the accused should not contact the injured party, should be under the supervision of the probation service and should not be in the company of children under 18 years of age alone.
A local detective garda told Anne Rowland SC, prosecuting, that the man became the girl's mother’s partner when the child was aged around eight years old and living in the UK.
The court heard the man began to sexually abuse the girl on a regular basis while living in the UK, but these offences are not before the court.
The abuse, as set out in the indictment before the court, started when the family moved to Limerick when the girl was aged 12. The man regularly sexually assaulted the girl, simulating sex on her in a garden shed when no-one else was around.
The offending ended in early 1997 when the man approached the girl when she was in the bathroom, and she told him she would shout out. She left home shortly afterwards and went to live with her father, the court heard.
The complainant eventually confided in her mother about the abuse in 2007. Her mother immediately confronted her partner about the allegations. He denied them, but the mother ended the relationship.
The complainant made an official complaint to UK police in 2016 and the man was interviewed by gardaí in 2017. He denied the allegations against him.
Ms Rowland said the Director of Public Prosecutions placed the man's offending at the higher end of the scale, due to the length and severity of the abuse, the breach of trust and the fact the man abused the child while he was in loco parentis.
Andrew Sexton SC, defending, said his client was a man of no relevant previous convictions who has not come to garda attention before. He noted one of the woman's siblings is currently living with the man, and he remains in touch with another sibling.
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.