A notorious Dublin criminal has been jailed for 10 years for one of the “most repulsive” sex offences ever encountered at the Central Criminal Court.
Mr Justice Paul Carney declared Stephen “Rossi” Walsh (aged 62) of Belgrave Road, Rathgar, a sex offender for raping and orally raping a nine-year-old girl in the early 1990s.
Mr Justice Carney commented that the “guess-the-fruit-and-veg” game, in which Walsh tricked his blindfolded victim to perform oral sex on him, was one of the most repulsive sex offences he has ever encountered in his 18-year tenure as judge and that he could see no mitigating factors in the defence case.
He said he found it “particularly revolting” that Walsh had planned the “sex game” by purchasing the fruit and vegetables in a shop beforehand.
He also noted the “inherent gravity” of the attacks, the young age of the victim and Walsh’s threats to the victim’s parents.
Mr Carney said he could find no mitigating factors which would reduce Walsh’s sentence. He said Walsh had “disentitled” himself to most forms of mitigation; an early guilty plea, genuine remorse and previous good character.
He imposed seven years post-release supervision and warned Walsh he could be jailed again if he fails to abide by its terms.
Outside court, Walsh’s victim, 25-year-old Ms Ruth Dunne waived her right to anonymity and spoke of how glad she was that “it has been exposed to the public what he really is”.
She thanked her family and the courts service as well as Mr Justice Carney and said she was very pleased with “the justice that has been done today”.
The now 25-year-old victim said in a statement read out by Ms Isobel Kennedy SC, prosecuting, that she been attending counselling since 2004 for post traumatic stress disorder, depression and feelings of shame and self-loathing.
She said aside from “severe physical pain and soreness”, she had felt confused and fearful after the rapes.
She described feeling scared for her sister the day Walsh took the two girls in his car to a beach area and raped his victim behind a rock during a game of “hide-and-seek”.
She recalled feeling “sick” and biting down hard during the game after he told her that the item began with “c” during a blindfolded game he had called “guess-the-fruit-and-veg.”
The young woman described her relief when she learned her attacker had been jailed for arson in a television news report in 1993 but said she “felt sick” when she heard of his release years later.
She said she had to take several days off work when she saw him by chance leaning on a wall in Dublin last year ahead of the case, adding that being called a liar under cross-examination and waiting on the jury’s decision at the trial’s end was the “worst time” of her life.
“What happened to me has not gone away, it will never go away, I am a victim of real child abuse”, she stated.
The jury took seven hours on day four of the trial to find Walsh guilty of the offences between January 1 and November 9, 1993.
Pleas of not guilty had been entered on Walsh’s behalf after he refused to indicate which way he was pleading to the two counts of rape and one count of oral rape. He has 10 previous convictions including a 15-year arson sentence at the Special Criminal Court in 1993.
Detective Sergeant Barry Walsh told Ms Kennedy that the attacker brought his young victim alone to a beach area one day after pretending to her parents he was taking her to play with his children.
Walsh raped the little girl by grabbing her from behind during a game of “hide-and-seek”. He covered her mouth when she screamed in pain.
He threatened that he’d “get” her parents if she told anyone about the attack as he dropped her back home.
Det Sgt Walsh said the victim told gardaí she was sore for days after the rape.
He told Ms Kennedy that Walsh drove the little girl to a grocery store and bought food before taking her to a house for a game he called “guess-the-fruit-and-veg” on another occasion.
The girl heard ruffling of plastic and Walsh telling her “this one begins with “c”” after he blindfolded her with some cloth material from the kitchen.
The girl said she saw Walsh’s what was in the plastic bag seconds after the incident.
Walsh raped her again when he brought her and her sister to the beach area for a game of “hide-and-seek”.
The victim crouched down behind a rock, was caught by Walsh and raped in the same way as the first incident.
She noticed blood on her pants later that day and washed them herself.
Mr John Phelan SC, defending, submitted to Mr Justice Carney that his client did not accept that he had taken advantage of the little girl.
He submitted that his client had not attempted to communicate with or intimidate the victim.
He asked the judge to also bear in mind his client’s age and to be as lenient with sentencing as possible.