The daughter of a woman who was left with life-changing injuries following a brutal rape has called for longer prison sentences for violent criminals.
In April 2018 Anthony Cassidy, a father-of-one with an address at Tinryland, Carlow, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to rape and assault causing serious harm of Laura Gates on June 25, 2017. He had 34 previous convictions, including two assaults and for soliciting for sex in the UK, at the time of the trial.
Ms Gates was left with brain injuries, including four bleeds on the brain, and mobility issues following the assault.
Cassidy attacked his victim in the early hours of the morning when she went to the shop to get cigarettes as she was having trouble sleeping.
In sentencing, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy had said the “starting point” for sentencing Cassidy was imprisonment for life but sentenced him to 18 years in prison after taking his guilty plea into account.
Ms Gates' daughter Melissa said her family now fears the day Cassidy will file for parole and expressed her anger that her mother’s attacker has appealed the severity of his sentence.
She told RTÉ 1's Liveline: “At the end of the day, life should mean life. The only one that gets a life sentence is the victim and their families."
"She says 'My grandson walks better than me and talks better than me', and my little boy is only three. He's [Cassidy] ruined her life completely,” she said.
Melissa, who is her mother’s full-time carer, said the first thing that struck her upon seeing Cassidy for the first time was how large he is, particularly compared to her mother.
She said: “That's the first thing that hit me when he came into the court, my mother was six stone, five foot four. He's six foot something and he's massive. If he had wanted to just rape her, hold her down and leave her go, to me it would have been bad enough, but to leave her the way he left her, and then bragged about it on the town the week of it before he was caught...”
“Clear the prisons, give the small shoplifters and stuff like that community service to give back after what they've done to the community, give the big lads, the rapists and the lads who take our families, give them the life sentence. Give them the sentence that they gave us,” she said.
“The worst thing about it is she blames herself. She says 'if I hadn't went to the shop to get fags'. She says to me 'it's not fair, you shouldn't be washing me, you shouldn't be dressing me, you're my daughter. I did that for you when you were a baby'.
"All the stuff he's done; he's taken her dignity but he also took any little bit of self-respect she had,” Melissa said.