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'The actions of a coward, evil': Man jailed for ten years for repeated rape of daughter

The victim said it had been unbearable to hear her mother giving evidence on her father’s behalf during the trial.

Image: Marco Verch via Flickr

A FATHER WHO raped his teenage daughter throughout her pregnancy and while her two-week-old baby was in the same room has been jailed for ten years.

Jennifer Berry (43) waived her right to anonymity so that Oliver Berry (61) could be named in any reporting of the case.

He was convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury of 104 counts of both raping and sexually assaulting her between December 1982 and December 1994 when she was aged between seven and 19 years old.

Berry of Newtown Lawns, Mullingar, pleaded not guilty to all offences and was convicted following a trial earlier this year. He has two previous convictions for minor offences.

He still maintains his innocence and Ms Berry’s mother, who has since separated from Berry, supports him and gave evidence in his defence during the trial.

Ms Berry stated in her victim impact statement, read into the record by Dominic McGinn SC prosecuting, that the first time she was ever abused by her father he took something from her, “her innocence and childhood”.

She said she found it “unbearable” to hear her mother giving evidence on her father’s behalf during the trial.

“Instead of trying to protect me, she protected him. She turned her back on me. I can’t understand how she could do this. I don’t know what I did to deserve two parents like that.”

‘Coward’

Ms Berry said she was let down in the worst way she could be and she now finds it hard to trust people. She said she was in fear of her father. He told her that if she disclosed the abuse her siblings would be taken away and this was a big concern for her.

She said she couldn’t concentrate well in school and she never went to college. She suffered panic attacks and depression from as far back as she could remember.

“I can’t say for definite but maybe it would have been different if I had been supported as a child,” Ms Berry continued.

She described the behaviour of her father as the “actions of a coward, evil”. She said he must be “in some parts a sick man because I can’t think of how he could hurt me otherwise”.

She referred to incidents of attempted suicide because of the abuse and said she thanked God that she is still alive.

“I have finally got justice after 35 years. I am now strong and able to fight. I am not weak anymore,” Ms Berry continued. She said that she hoped that she saved at least one person from going through what she did and reporting her father to the gardaí.

During the trial, Garda Andrea Coonan had said the victim was first sexually assaulted by her father when he made her sit beside him while he watched pornography. The abuse continued on a regular basis in a similar way for about two years.

Ms Berry was nine years old when she was first raped by her father. She had just had a bath and had come into her bedroom wrapped in a towel when he told her “it was time” and he was “going to make her a woman”.

She struggled but he pushed her down and raped her. He gave her a tissue and told her to clean herself up and “stop acting like a baby”. She was also raped in wasteland which he would drive her to.

Berry would then rape her in the front of the car having pushed back the seat. Ms Berry recalled that such incidences occurred from the time she was in 4th class to when she was 16 years old.

Damage

Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy had adjourned the case having first heard the evidence two weeks ago.

She noted that Berry was 25 years old when he first abused his seven-year-old daughter and said on occasion he made her wear her mother’s underwear as “a prelude to rape”.

She said the first time he raped her, Jennifer didn’t understand what had happened by “virtue of her youth”.

Ms Justice Murphy said that a year when Berry was out of work, Jennifer was raped most days when she returned home from school for lunch. On occasion when she refused to go home she was beaten up by Berry on her ultimate return from school.

She noted that he continued to rape his daughter while she was pregnant with her first child as he told the victim “the damage had now been done”. It was after this rape that she left the family home and never returned.

The judge said that Jennifer believed that Berry was her son’s father until DNA testing during the garda investigation into the rapes confirmed her boyfriend at the time was the father.

In 2004 Berry began a new relationship and the woman had a young daughter. Ms Berry became concerned for the girl’s welfare and reported her father to the gardaí.

Ms Justice Murphy said sexual abuse “ruptures wider family bonds” and added that Jennifer has “spent her entire life fighting demons. She has since learned thatshe has the strength and capacity to fight those demons”.

“He continually used her for his own sexual gratification and treated her as his property,” Ms Justice Murphy said before she jailed Berry for ten years. She said she had noted the fact that he continues to protest his innocence and his indicated that he plans to appeal his convictions.

The judge said she had taken into consideration Berry’s age of state of his health when determining sentence.

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Sonya McClean

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