A man who repeatedly sexually abused his nine-year-old daughter and threatened to kill her and other family members if she told anyone has been jailed for 14 years.
The 58-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his daughter, told the child the bible says a child must do what their father says.
Following a Central Criminal Court trial last November, a jury convicted him of 11 offences, including rape, oral rape, sexual assault, false imprisonment, threat to kill and forcing a child to watch sexual activity.
The abuse took place in the family home in the Midlands between December 2019 and April 2020, Lorcan Staines SC, prosecuting, told the court.
The girl was nine-years-old at the time of the abuse. The court heard the family was very religious and the man told his daughter that the bible says a child must do what their father says.
He also threatened to kill her and her other family members if she told anyone about the abuse, while showing her a knife.
The man “vehemently” denied the claims and continues to deny any wrong-doing, the court heard. He told gardaí that the child's mother, from whom he is estranged, made up the claims to turn his children against him.
In her victim impact statement, which was read out by a local garda detective, the girl – now aged 11 – said the abuse has left her embarrassed by her own body. “I don't feel good any more,” she said.
She said she has frequent nightmares and wakes up crying, fearful that the abuse will happen again. For a period of time she said she was vomiting a lot. She said she does not like to be near boys anymore and is afraid her friends in school will find out what happened and not play with her.
Her mother also gave a victim impact statement in which she said her daughter's childhood innocence was taken away from her in a cruel way. “The thought that my child has been through such a terrible experience and will carry the weight of this all her life weighs me down,” she said.
She said her daughter is getting all the support and therapy she will need to help her.
Sentencing the man on Mondau, Ms Justice Eileen Creedon noted that the Director of Public Prosecutions had submitted that the case lay at the higher end of the scale of the offences, with an indicative sentence of 15 years to life.
She imposed concurrent prison terms of 15 years for the rape offences and suspended the final year on condition that he keep the peace while in custody and for one year after his release. She also ordered that he engage with Probation Service supervision for one year, in particular with offence focused and victim awareness programmes.
The local garda detective told the court that the girl's mother and father were separated but living in the same house. The abuse started in December 2019, around the time the girl's mother was in hospital for a period.
On the first occasion, he sexually assaulted and raped her, threatening to kill her if she told anyone. On the next occasion, the man orally raped and sexually assaulted his daughter after her mother asked her to bring him some clothes upstairs.
On another occasion, the man made the girl watch pornography before he sexually assaulted and raped her. Gardaí were alerted to the abuse in April 2020 after the girl disclosed what had happened to her.
Her mother took a barring order out against her father and he has not had any communication with his family since that point.
When arrested, the man denied all the allegations and told gardaí his estranged wife was making up the claims to turn him against his children.
Mr Staines told Ms Justice Creedon that the aggravating factors included the age of the child, the fact he was her father, the use of religion and intimidation to coerce a vulnerable child and the fact it took place over a number of months.
Garnet Orange SC, defending, said his client is a man with no previous convictions and a good work history. He urged the judge to take the man's prior good character and his cooperation with gardaí into consideration.
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.