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Dublin: 2 °C Tuesday 28 January, 2020

'Dangerous sexual predator' who raped 13-year-old girl in church grounds jailed for nine years

The accused has 37 previous convictions of which 17 are for sexual offences.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive/PA Images

A CLARE MAN who raped a 13-year-old girl after chasing her in the grounds of a church has been sentenced to nine years and 168 days’ imprisonment.

The Central Criminal Court heard the man continued to harass the child for years after this offence, telling her he had connections with gardaí and “could not be touched”.

The 37-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the victim’s identity, denied a single count of raping the schoolgirl on a date between June and August 2011. He was convicted after trial by jury earlier this year.

The complainant gave birth to a child when she was aged 16 and DNA testing proved the accused was the father. He subsequently pleaded guilty to defilement. The complainant since told gardaí the defilement was coercive.

Passing sentence today, Justice Alexander Owens said he considered the man “a dangerous sexual predator” with a long history of previous sexual offending and noted he will be released while still a relatively young man.

Justice Owens ordered that the man undergo a period of seven years’ post-release supervision on a number of strict conditions, including that he makes no contact with anyone aged under 18 and abstain from loitering near any place where children congregate.

‘He took my privacy’

In a victim impact statement read out on her behalf, the now 20-year-old complainant said the man had ruined her life. “He took my childhood, my worth, my confidence, my friends, my family,” she wrote.

The woman said although she was raped eight years ago, she relives it every day, “like it happened yesterday”.

She suffers severe anxiety since the attack and requires medication.

“He took my privacy, my intimacy, my safety and my own voice,” the victim wrote, adding that the attack continued to affect her relationship and that she felt she could never give her trust to her partner.

Garda Donal Corkery told Conor Devally SC, prosecuting, that the man had verbally abused the girl multiple times before the day he raped her and would call her a “whore” and a “prostitute” when she refused to “go for a spin” in his car.

Devally said on the day in question, the girl was with friends when the accused arrived and started “roaring abuse” and raised his hand towards her. The friends fled and the girl ran off trying to take a short cut home through church grounds.

The accused chased her and caught her by the throat near a shrine, throwing her face down on the ground.

He took off her underwear and raped her, saying she was going to get “what she deserved”.

The girl ran home and passed her mother, now deceased, washing carrots in the kitchen; but was unable to speak to her.

She later got a phone call from the accused on a private number, saying she could tell whoever she wanted but that he was related to a garda so he “could not be touched”.

The court heard the man continued to harass the girl with inappropriate sexualised messages for years although she repeatedly changed her mobile number.

Devally said phone records investigated by gardaí showed coarse messages from the accused to the victim revelling in his memories of the rape which he described as “breaking her in” and referring to a level of violence of which he seemed proud.

The accused has 37 previous convictions of which 17 are for sexual offences, including the defilement charge. In 2004, he was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for these 17 charges of sexual assault and buggery committed against five different child victims aged between ten and 14.

‘A make-believe world’

Mark Nicholas SC, defending, said he had been asked by the accused to apologise to the complainant. Counsel said the accused had expressed remorse and shame to his probation officer, who assessed him as at medium risk of re-offending.

Nicholas said his client maintained a stable lifestyle and had no addiction issues. He said the accused had family support, although his parents were obviously shocked by his offences.

The court heard the accused has two small children with whom he has no contact, as well as the third child that was the subject of the defilement charge.

Justice Owens said the man has admitted the rape to the Probation Service and offered an apology, but said he thought it unlikely that the man would have admitted and apologised had he been acquitted.

He said that to admit the rape now and offer an apology might be a rather cynical exercise, but it did at least offer finality.

He rejected the man’s claim that he felt remorse after the rape due to the texts the man sent “gloating” in the aftermath.

Justice Owens said that the man lived in “a make-believe world” where the victim was his girlfriend. He said the case was aggravated by the man’s domination and controlling of the victim after the offence, which ensured the rape did not come to light and continued to dominate the victim’s life.

He said further aggravating factors were the man’s failure to rehabilitate himself following convictions for previous sexual offences and his threatening of the victim after the rape.

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About the author:

Jessica Magee & Brion Hoban

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