Raped for 10 years

“He raped me for 10 years and he walks out of here today. I feel like the system has done it to me too.”

Rape victim Fiona Doyle was speaking outside the court after her father, who admitted abusing her once a week for a decade, walked free pending an appeal. The abuse began the night before she was to make her First Holy Communion.

Ms Doyle said she was devastated by the ruling but vowed to fight on.

“It’s been proven that I’ve being telling the truth,” she said. “Last week I felt great, I was vindicated and I was told I was telling the truth.

“He admitted it. He pleaded guilty.

“For him to walk out of here today without serving one day, just one day, it’s just devastating.

“I don’t know what his health is like. I have a feeling it’s being exaggerated to a great level. But I was more upset that the judge said he has been a good character and proven himself over the years.

“Since I brought this out 23 years ago, my parents have hounded and harassed me, called me a liar, shown no remorse whatsoever to what they’ve done to me. They’ve reared my daughter to turn on me and despise me. To this day, they are still doing the same. I just don’t know what else to say. I just want to go home now with my kids and just let it all sink in.”

Mr Justice Paul Carney suspended the last nine years of a 12-year sentence imposed on Patrick O’Brien, aged 72, after describing his crimes as one of the most serious cases of serial rape of a daughter.

O’Brien, of Old Court Avenue, Bray, Co Wicklow pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to 16 charges of the rape and indecent assault of his daughter from 1973 to 1982.

Justice Carney said it was a most difficult case to judge.

“If I impose a serious custodial sentence and suspend it, it will go out in soundbites that, in one of the most serious cases of serial rape of a daughter, the man walked. That is all the community will be told.

“On the other side, if I impose a heavy sentence, unsuspended, I will be branded as a trial judge who substituted one injustice for another. I am trying to strike a balance.”

He said he believed he was taking a very moderate position by imposing a sentence of 12 years for the rape charges, along with concurrent sentences of three years for the indecent assault.

He said the primary mitigating factor for the accused was his serious and exceptional medical condition. The court heard O’Brien has a heart condition and that he requires oxygen for eight hours every night.

Justice Carney said other factors were O’Brien’s guilty pleas, his expression of remorse, his good behaviour, history of employment and the length of time since the offences. Based on these mitigating factors, he suspended the final nine years.

He remanded O’Brien on continuing bail pending that appeal.

Speaking outside the court, Ms Doyle said she waived her anonymity because she wanted everyone to know what happened to her.

“I wanted everyone to know what he did to me. Too many people have believed their stories and turned their back on me. I wanted everyone to know what me and my kids have gone through through the years.

“The family we lost, the friends, the uncles. My brothers and my sisters, my nieces and nephews, I lost them all. My daughter, my grandchildren. The price of this has just been too high for us. I just can’t believe that this has happened.”

Asked if her father has ever said sorry, Ms Doyle said: “No, never. He never said sorry. Neither of them did. And my mother should be in that dock with him. I don’t know what’s going to happen now.

“All I can do is just wait and see. I just need to make sure we’re OK and my kids are OK.”

Asked if her mother had known what was going on, Ms Doyle said: “She definitely knew. Undoubtedly. From the early age of eight to 10 I was called ‘your father’s whore’. Those words will ring in my head for the rest of my life. And so will today.”

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