A Sligo man has been jailed for 15 years for the repeated rape and sexual abuse of his teenage daughter which led to him fathering her child.
The abuse began in September 2005 when the girl was aged 13, and continued for two years.
Before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy passed sentence at the Central Criminal Court the victim, now aged 19, said her father had been a hero to her when she was growing up.
The 48-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victim, had pleaded not guilty last month of eight counts of sexual assault and seven counts of rape at the family home between September 2005 and September 2007.
Within two years of the abuse beginning in the family home in Sligo the victim was pregnant with her father’s child.
Reading her own victim impact report to the court the woman said she blamed herself for the abuse when it was taking place.
She said: “I trusted my dad. He was my hero growing up. I never knew what he was doing to me, I always felt it was my fault and I was ashamed of myself”
“He stole my trust and stole my innocence. I wanted my dad to feel proud of me but he physically and mentally abused me.”
She said when social services and school liaison officers came to the house in her head she was screaming: "He is abusing me, help me" but that there was always an emotional ball and chain keeping her quiet.
She said: “I was suffering in silence and begging for that silence to be broken.”
“I never knew when the abuse would start. I was constantly on edge. I had no-one to protect me. I was petrified of him. I couldn’t stop him. It was always a losing battle.
“He blamed me and shamed me in front of other people. He humiliated me by calling me ‘p****tease’ and made out I was the one who wanted it.”
She told the court that she didn’t want her dad to be dead or alive but wished he had never existed.
She added that she has waited so long to see him found guilty of the abuse and that his lack of remorse during the trial had left her “deeply traumatised”.
Detective Garda Pauline McDonagh told Anne Marie Lawlor BL, prosecuting that the victim told gardaí that her father sexually abused her once every two to three weeks from when she was 13.
Valerie Tomlinson, a biologist with the UK’s Forensic Science Service said that DNA tests showed that the man is 20,000 times more likely to have fathered his daughter’s child than anyone else unrelated to him.
During the trial the victim gave evidence that after the first incident of rape her father smiled at her and told her she was no longer a virgin.
The court heard that the girl's father sexually abused her once every two to three weeks, with the abuse beginning shortly before her 13th birthday.
She said that he would wake her up in her bed and, after cuddling her, would rape her. She told prosecuting counsel, Isobel Kennedy SC (with Ms Lawlor), that her father took her virginity in March 2006.
Some of the abuse took place in her father's bedroom when she would go there at night because of a fear of ghosts.
She said: “I would get into my Dad's bed because he was my Dad and I felt safe. I was young.”
She added: “I was brainwashed by this man. He was my only parent. I had no Mum. I had no-one else to turn to. He was the only one looking after me. I did feel safe around my Dad at some stage.”
Her father would punch her and kick her out of the bed when she asked him to stop touching her.
She became pregnant over a year after the abuse began and she said she knew the child was her father's because she had not had sex with anyone else.
Valerie Tomlinson, a biologist with the UK’s Forensic Science Service said that she compared the three DNA profiles of the man, his daughter and her baby child.
She said that after eliminating the DNA bands belonging to the mother, the remaining “paternal bands” of DNA were all found to be in the DNA profile of the man.
Ms Tomlinson said these comparisons showed he was 20,000 times more likely to be the child’s father than an unknown man unrelated to the accused.
Ms Tomlinson said: “In my opinion the DNA profiles provide very strong support for the assertion that [the accused] is the natural father of [the named child] rather than an unknown man unrelated to [the accused]”.
Dorothy Ramsbottom from the Forensic Science Laboratory in Dublin said that her tests on the DNA profiles concluded that the man is 12,000 times more likely to be the biological father than an unknown man unrelated to him.
She said that the fact that the man and the mother of the child are related did not alter the strength of this evidence.
The court heard that during garda interviews the man told them he had a clear conscience.
He told them: “I believe in God. My conscience is clear. There have been worse sinners in this life. God forgives.”
“I have my own justice,” he later told detectives. “I have remorse for every wrong I've done. I'm a human being, not a red arsed red neck”.
When gardaí told the man that he had done a lot of good things in raising his daughter on his own he replied: “I had good intentions. I didn't start off with bad intentions. I failed.”
He also told gardaí during interview: “Everyone makes mistakes”.
He said that he had spoken to his daughter on the telephone since she had reported the abuse and he told gardaí that they were “ok” now.
He said: “I love her and tell her every day. I resided myself to the fact that everyone makes mistakes.”