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Woman who was raped as a child wins legal battle to name her attacker

Declan Hannon, 50, of Gorey, Co Wexford can now be named after a judgement by the Court of Appeal today.

Image: PA

A WOMAN WHO was raped as a child has successfully won an 18 month legal battle to have her rapist named after a court made a gagging order preventing him from being identified, in case that identified her. 

Declan Hannon (50) first raped the nine year old child during a game of hide and seek when he was aged 17. He raped the child three more times during the summer in around 1987 or 1989.

The woman, now aged in her 40s, gave evidence six times in court before the offender was finally convicted and subsequently jailed for seven years.

She came forward to make a statement in 2013 and there were a number of trials which collapsed before Hannon of Ramsgate Village, Gorey, Co Wexford was convicted by a jury after a trial at the Central Criminal Court in March 2019.

He had pleaded not guilty to four counts of rape and two counts of indecent assault on dates between 1987 and 1989.

This is the first time the full details of his sentence hearing at the Central Criminal Court in May 2019 can be published because of a gagging order imposed by Justice Micheal White during the trial.

The order prevented the publication of the both the victim and her abuser. In a judgement today the Court of Appeal ruled that this order “was superfluous and ought not to have been made”.

Justice White said that he made his order “at the request of the DPP and the complainant”.

Lawyers for the DPP appealed the gagging order after the victim contacted them to say she wished to waive her anonymity and for Hannon to be named. In response Hannon made applications to the court submitting the victim had no legal right to waive her anonymity.

Speaking outside of court in 2019 the victim said she was never asked by the DPP at the sentencing hearing about her wishes and did not know she had to address the question of her anonymity.

A separate landmark decision which prevents child victims of crime being named means her name cannot be published, despite her indicating her wish for this to happen, unless and until a court rules on the matter. 

In her victim impact statement the woman, now a married mother, said she had to think long and hard about coming forward when she was approached by gardaí in 2013.

She said she had tucked away the horror of what had happened but ultimately decided to come forward “to right this horrible wrong.”

She described how she was a witness in the long court process with no legal representation or guidance and had to remind herself not to get her hopes up as there was the potential for it all to go wrong.

“All I had was the truth and the knowledge I was doing the right thing,” she told the court.

“You had the opportunity to prevent all this by taking responsibility but again chose the hurtful path of deception….you rolled the dice at our expense and rightfully lost,” she told Hannon.

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She said there had been reference during the court case to delay in coming forward, but she said having been through the trial process now, she knows they did the right thing and that her mother had protected her from the trauma of a court case as a child.

“I will never forget what has been done for me to finally have justice, peace and closure,” she said.

In sentencing, Mr Justice White said that Hannon carried the brutal and cynical rape of an innocent child. He set a headline sentence of 11 years.

He reduced this to seven after taking into consideration the fact that he had led a “constructive and exemplary life” since this offending.

Mr Justice White paid tribute to the “exceptional courage” of the victim who he noted had to give evidence on six occasions during the legal process.

“She showed exceptional courage in the way she comported herself throughout this process,” he said. He said the court was very conscious that serious sexual abuse during childhood affected a person throughout their life.

He commended the woman for conquering these issues and living a normal life.

About the author:

Fiona Ferguson and Declan Brennan

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