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Man jailed for raping his daughter while mother was terminally ill in hospital

The judge said that the victim, who has special needs, still has a bond with her father.

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A FATHER WHO raped his adult daughter who has special needs, while her mother was terminally ill in hospital, has been jailed for seven years.

The 66-year-old Munster man, who cannot be identified in order to protect his daughter’s identity, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the rape and sexual assault of his daughter on two dates during one week in 2016.

Mr Justice Michael White said these offences were “an egregious breach of trust” as the accused man’s daughter was a person with special needs who was incapable of living alone and he had a particular duty-of-care to her.

He noted another aggravating factor was the timing of the offences while her mother, with whom the woman had a special bond, was in hospital. He said the accused man had suffered sexual abuse himself and would have been aware of the pain and suffering he was inflicting on his daughter.

In mitigation he took into account the man’s guilty plea which he said was particularly important because of the special needs of his daughter. He noted the man’s remorse and the fact he was now in ill-health. He said the man came from a background of childhood neglect and abuse.

Mr Justice White set a headline sentence of 11 years and taking into account the mitigating circumstances imposed an eight year sentence.

He suspended the final year on condition that the man be assessed for the Building Better Lives programme and that during the suspended period he have no contact with his daughter except under the supervision and direction of the Probation Service.

Letter of apology

Mr Justice White noted that the man’s daughter still had a bond with him and that a care order will be made by social services in relation to her and contact with her father.

He extended his best wishes to the victim and said her kindness and gentleness “comes shining through” in her victim impact statement.

“Clearly she loves her father and hates what he did to her,” said Mr Justice White.

The woman outlined in her victim impact statement that she felt sad when “dad did what he did to me” as her mother was dying in hospital.

She said he once told her he had abused her as she was “the quiet one” which made her feel sad and vulnerable. She said she had taken several overdoses.

The woman, who now lives in independent care with support services, expressed a fear of being alone and growing old by herself. “My mum died and my dad is not here,” she said.

The accused man wrote a letter of apology in which he said he was ashamed and truly sorry for what had happened. “Can you find it in your heart to forgive me?” he asked his daughter.

Previous evidence

The prosecuting garda told David Humphries BL, prosecuting, that the victim lived with her parents. These offences occurred during a week in 2016 when her mother had been taken into hospital for treatment and subsequently died.

He said that during that week the victim informed social workers of what had occurred with her father. She said that a few days after her mother was taken to hospital her father had raped her in a bedroom and sexually assaulted her two days later.

The victim was taken into care but later moved back in with her father, who had promised not to touch her again. A formal complaint was not made until two years later when the man was arrested and made admissions to gardai.

Following her father’s arrest the victim, described as extremely vulnerable, was living alone but was unable to fend for herself. She is now in independent care with the help of support services.

The garda agreed with Colman Cody SC, defending, that there was no suggestion of anything inappropriate happening while the man and his daughter lived together following the offences.

Cody said during garda interview the accused man had admitted responsibility and acknowledged what he had done was wrong. He said the man had a chronic alcohol dependency and was on prescribed medication.

He said the man was described in a report as psychologically vulnerable man who was beginning to understand what he had done but would need help and treatment. He has been placed at above average risk of repeat sexual offending and has been strongly advised to attend specialised treatment.

Counsel said the man seemed to be under the impression he would have a normal father daughter relationship on his release, which Cody described as “naive and deluded at worst.”

He said the man had “somewhat skewed thinking as to how his daughter perceives him.”

He asked the court to take into account that the guilty plea in this case was of particular value, that his client had no previous convictions and that the letter of apology showed some appreciation of the harm he had caused to his daughter.

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Fiona Ferguson

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