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Monday 6 February 2023 Dublin: 2°C
William Murphy/Flickr/CC
# Court
Waterford father found guilty of rape of his son
The boy’s mother was acquitted of having sex with him.

The details of this case may be disturbing to some readers.

A JURY HAS convicted a Waterford father of raping his son from the age of six years old and acquitted the child’s mother of having sex with the boy.

Jurors took just over seven hours to return the guilty verdicts on the 64-year-old, who cannot be named to protect his son’s identity. They also convicted him of one count of child cruelty relating to an incident where the father locked his son in a box for six hours.

The jury acquitted him of charges that he raped the child with a hot fire poker. The mother was found not guilty of having sex or simulating sex with the boy at the behest of the father.

Jurors are still deliberating on a single count of child cruelty against the mother relating to the box incident. They will return on Monday.

Sex offender

Prosecuting counsel Pauline Walley SC asked Mr Justice Robert Eagar to remove the father’s bail. The judge remanded him in custody until Monday and declared him a sex offender.

The boy’s father faced nine counts of raping the boy, nine counts of raping the boy with a poker and one count of cruelty. The mother faced two counts of sexual assault relating to allegations she had sex with the boy and one count of cruelty.

Both parents have pleaded not guilty to the allegations which are alleged to have occurred between 2009 and 2011 in their Waterford home.

The parents had originally faced a total of 82 charges but 60 of these were withdrawn this week following legal argument.

The seven-week trial heard often harrowing evidence including allegations that the child’s father filmed the child having sex with the mother and showed the footage to people who visited the house.

The child was taken into care just before his eighth birthday after telling his teacher his father had been beating him and he “couldn’t take it anymore”.

Foster home

He was sent to a foster home where widespread sexual abuse occurred. The boy was sexually abused by another boy while in foster care. A third child is awaiting sentence for sexual abuse he carried out in the house.

The boy was sent to another foster home after about a year. He trusted his new foster parents and said he felt safe enough there to begin disclosing the abuse he suffered. His foster mother recorded the allegations in detailed daily logs which she handed over to gardaí.

While in the second foster home the boy began displaying highly disturbing and sexualised behaviour. He made sexual threats to the mother when he got upset, was found interfering with animals and seemed to have a obsession with faeces.

His foster mother told the trial she loved the boy dearly but couldn’t handle his behaviour. The HSE was forced to send him to the UK for specialised residential treatment as no such treatment was available in Ireland. The last thing he said to his foster mother before leaving was: “I feel like a dog that nobody wants.”

The boy remains in the care unit. He gave evidence via video-link from a room in the Old Bailey in London.

Child witness

Several concessions were made for the child witness under the new EU directive on victims rights.

Barristers did not wear wigs or gowns and the boy did not have to take an oath. Instead Mr Justice Eagar asked him if he knew the difference between telling the truth and telling lies.

The child also had an intermediary with him who would explain questions and help clarify his answers. This was the first time such a measure was used in an Irish court.

The boy’s allegations formed the vast bulk of the evidence against his father. The judge told jurors that there was no corroborative evidence from anyone who may have witnessed the abuse.

He said the law has traditionally thought it dangerous to convict without corroborative evidence but said the jury could return guilty verdicts if they believed the child.

Gardaí found no fire poker or videos of sexual abuse during two searches of the home. They did find a video of the parents engaging in consensual sexual activity with another woman.

A medical examination of the child found no signs of abuse but the examining doctor pointed out that most sexual abuse does not leave lasting injuries and the examination was conducted three months after the child was taken out of the family home.

There were several inconsistencies in the child’s evidence and his testimony differed in places to the statement he had made to gardaí. He had told gardaí his mother was a willing participant in the abuse but in court he said she was forced to do it by his father and she complied because “she didn’t want to become homeless”.

The prosecution asked the jury to consider if these inconsistencies were evidence of lying or of a child trying to “block out” what happened to him “half a lifetime ago.”

Both parents denied the abuse in interview. The father said the boy was a difficult child who had ADHD and social workers had “brainwashed” the boy into making the allegations.

The father’s defence counsel suggested there was “a kernel of truth” to this belief. He used his closing speech to criticise the social workers for failing to tell gardaí the boy had retracted his allegations in February 2015.

Gardaí only found this out earlier this year. When they went to reinterview the boy he said the abuse did happen and he only said it didn’t because he didn’t want to go through with the trial.

More to follow. Comments are closed as this case has not yet concluded.

Declan Brennan and Conor Gallagher