Woman abused by father wins damages

A Dublin woman who sued her father for damages for sexual assault she suffered between the age of two and 12 has been awarded €375,000 in the High Court.

Mother-of-three Ailish Smith, of Templeview Lawn, Clarehall, Dublin, consented to the waiving of her anonymity during the trial so that her father could be named in the media.

The court heard that her father, Gerard Smith, of Magenta Hall, Santry, Dublin, had been convicted and sentenced in 2006 to six years imprisonment, with two years suspended.

He had pleaded guilty to five sample charges relating to the most serious incidents of abuse of his daughter in the 1980s when his wife was out of the house.

Ms Smith, 38, broughta High Court action for damages for sexual assault against her father.

Liability in the case was not contested but the defence had argued the case had been brought outside statutory time limitations.

Last month, Ms Smith told the court the abuse initially involved her father touching her genitals but later he had got her to perform oral sex.

Mr Justice Éamon de Valera yesterday told Ms Smith’s barrister, Sean Ó Síothcháin, that he would have awarded her €450,000 damages, similar to an award he had made in an earlier sexual assault case.

He said the Supreme Court had capped that award on appeal at €375,000 and, in line with that ruling, he was awarding Ms Smith that figure, along with costs.

Ms Smith had told the court that the abuse had a devastating effect on her. Her solicitor David Christie, in a joint statement issued following yesterday’s judgment, said Ms Smith had been relieved and pleased with the outcome.

Judge de Valera dismissed the application that Ms Smith’s claim was out of time and ruled she was entitled to maintain her claim against her father.

He ruled her will had been impaired up until 2004.

During the hearing, Ms Smith’s mother had denied she had tried to silence her daughter about the assaults.


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