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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 14 July, 2020
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Man given two life sentences for rape of two children in Athlone

The families of the two children cried as the verdicts were handed down, and the fathers of the victims hugged each other outside the courtroom.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

A MAN HAS been given two life sentences for the rape of two children in Athlone last year.

The accused, a 30-year-old unemployed man, had pleaded guilty to five charges of raping the two girls, just three days after being released from prison.

Justice Paul Carney allowed media to name the man. However, one of the fathers of the victims said that he worried that his family would be identified in their town. Because of this, TheJournal.ie has decided against naming him.

The girls, aged six and nine years old, were at a birthday party in the Westmeath town when they were lured away to a nearby house where the offences occurred.

The court heard how the two girls were “lured away” as they played on a green area near their relatives home.

The man told the victims that he had a 6-year-old daughter who was too shy to come out and play. He told them that she was inside his house.

Once inside the house, he subjected them to a 20-minute ordeal, during which he raped the nine-year-old vaginally, orally and anally, and raped the six-year-old orally and anally.

While doing so, he told each of the girls that he would cut both their throats and the throats of their parents. He also admitted hitting the younger girl.

The girls were told to stay on the floor of the house for 20 minutes before leaving. However, they made their escape through a window.

They were found by relatives running across the green and the accused was identified as he walked nearby. Two members of the public detained him until gardaí arrived.

Drinking

The man made a full admission in his fifth interview with gardaí and said that he had been drinking since 7.05am that morning.

He said that he had gone to a local priest to ask for money, telling him that it was for food.

The priest gave the man €10, which he spent on two bottles of cider, which he added to vodka and valium.

The man, who is originally from Galway, has a number of previous convictions, though none are sex-related.

He had been released from Castlerea prison on the Wednesday before the Saturday afternoon attack.

Verdict

Counsel for the DPP said the offence was on the upper end of the scale because of the age of the victims, the degradation they had suffered and the premeditation.

The man’s defence counsel said that he came from a troubled background and had depressive illnesses and possible organic brain damage.

The families of the two children cried as the verdicts were handed down, and the fathers of the victims hugged each other outside the courtroom.

Mr Justice Paul Carney said that the case was “too serious to offer mitigation for the offered reasons of drink and drug abuse, and an early and signed guilty plea”.

He noted that “in these cases, normally a significant discount would be applied,” but would not happen in this case.

Handing down the sentence, the judge said that he found it “too upsetting to rehash the details” of the case, saying that “the grim nature of the case was evidenced by the faces of the hard-boiled press corps”.

He went on to say that in 20 years as a judge, he has always refrained from saying that any case was the worst case he had ever seen because it just prompts a worse case.

The guilty man offered an apology to the victims, their families and his own family after the sentencing.

He made no response as he was led away.

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