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Mayo man loses appeal against severity of sentence for sexually abusing three girls

He had already lost his appeal against conviction.

Image: Laura Hutton via RollingNews.ie

A MAYO MAN has lost his appeal against the severity of his sentence for sexually abusing three sisters of a neighbouring family over an 18-year period.

He had already lost his appeal against conviction.

The 65-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the anonymity of the victims, began abusing the girls when they were aged between nine and 12 years old. He began the abuse in 1976 and carried out the last incidence of abuse in 1994.

The court heard that he was related to their family and lived just yards from their home.

The man began abusing the oldest sister in the late 1970s, when she was between 10 and 12 years old. The girl slapped him across the face and told him never to do it again.

The abuse relating to the youngest sister occurred at a family function in 1994, when she was approximately 12 years old.

However, the majority of the counts related to offences against the middle sister, with the abuse lasting until she was 16 years old. 

On 19 October 2017 the man was found guilty by a Mayo Circuit Criminal Court jury on 19 counts of indecent assault against one girl and one count of indecent assault against each of her two sisters. He had denied all charges over the course of his seven-day trial.

Judge Rory McCabe later imposed concurrent prison sentences totalling seven years.

The Court of Appeal previously refused the abuser’s application to set aside the conviction on grounds that the trial judge had refused to sever the indictment. 

Justice John Edwards said the appeal court had ‘no hesitation’ in concluding that the trial judge was correct in his refusal.

The man then returned to the court to appeal the severity of his sentence.

His barrister, Mark Nicholas SC, submitted that the sentence of seven years was disproportionate.

He noted that the judge had placed some of the offending against the middle sister close to the top of the scale of gravity. He said that this was a potential error in principle.

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“You have to leave space for those very aggravated matters,” he said, suggesting that it would be better placed at the top of the mid range.

Patrick Reynolds BL, responded on behalf of the DPP. He noted that the sentencing judge had considered the man’s conduct over many years as particularly depraved.

“There was grooming,” he noted.

He said that it was well within the judge’s compass to set the sentences he did.

Justice Edwards, sitting with Court President Justice George Birmingham and Justice Patrick McCarthy, delivered judgment today.

They said that they were satisfied that the sentences adequately reflected the gravity of the offending conduct and that there was no error on the part of the sentencing judge.

“The sentences ultimately imposed were both just and appropriate,” they concluded, dismissing the appeal.

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Natasha Reid

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