A Dublin man who systematically raped and sexually abused the daughter of a family friend while she was aged between six and 12 years old has been given a 15-year sentence by Mr Justice Barry White.
The 64-year-old, separated, father-of-one pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three counts of rape and one count of sexual assault, from a total of 72, on dates from 1998 to 2004.
Mr Justice White said the victim's father had "entrusted his child's care to you - a friend" and had been guilty of a "an appalling breech of trust." He said the man's guilty pleas had come "at the 11th hour" after a jury had been sworn in for his trial but he had nonetheless spared her the trauma of giving evidence.
Mr Justice White said he considered the gravity of the rapes to warrant a sentence of 15 years on each of the three counts, to run concurrently. He suspended the final three years due to the man's personal circumstances, including his deteriorating health.
He imposed a sentence of five years imprisonment on the count of sexual assault to also run concurrently and directed that his name be added to the register of sex offenders.
Ms Pauline Walley SC (with Mr Damian Colgan BL), for the prosecution, told Mr Justice White that the Director of Public Prosecutions considered this case to be at the upper end of the scale of child sex abuse.
A psychiatric report on the teenage victim said she felt anger towards her abuser and described her as a vulnerable and naive girl who had trouble in expressing how the abuse had affected her. The report said she had feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression and difficulties establishing trusting relationships with boys.
Garda Niall Keenan told Ms Walley that the man had baby-sat for the victim and her siblings on a weekly basis and the abuse, which consisted of vaginal intercourse, oral sex and digital penetration, began to occur in her bedroom when she was seven years old.
Gda Keenan said that there was no violence, apart from the abuse, or threats made to the victim. He said she was frightened she would get in trouble if she told anyone and that her father would kill the accused.
He said that in 2003 arrangements changed and the victim began to go to the accused's home. The abuse occurred there in a bedroom while the girl's younger sister was asleep beside her.
Gda Keenan said another incident occurred at a New Years Eve party in 2003 in the home of a relative of the accused man. The victim and a sibling ended up sleeping in the same room as the man and he had vaginal and oral sex with her.
The next morning their father became aware that he was asleep in the same bed as the girl.
There was a final incident in 2006 when the victim went to stay with him and there was more sexual abuse. The girl then missed a period and in her distress confided in a friend who told her father.
Gda Keenan said the man, who has no previous convictions, was interviewed by gardaí and denied he had slept in the same bed as the girl at the party and dismissed all other allegations as lies.
Gda Keenan agreed with defence counsel, Mr John Peart SC (with Mr Anthony Kelly BL), that the man had been married in England and had a child, but when his marriage broke down he returned to Ireland.
Mr Peart said his client was not in the best of health and had suffered several minor strokes. He asked the court to consider that his deteriorating health would make a prison sentence more difficult for him.
Mr Peart added that the man wanted to apologise in open court to the victim. He realised the ongoing pain and suffering he had caused to the girl and felt guilt and shame for his actions.