Judgment reserved in stepfather’s appeal against abuse conviction

A man given 12-year sentences for raping and sexually abusing his three step-children must wait to hear the outcome of an appeal.

Judgment reserved in stepfather’s appeal against abuse conviction

The man aged 54, who cannot be named to protect the victims’ identities, abused the two girls and a boy after starting a relationship with their mother and moving to Ireland from abroad.

In one trial, he was found guilty by a Central Criminal Court jury of 35 counts of sexual assault and rape of two of his step-children.

The female victim was aged between seven and 13, while the male was aged between 11 and 17.

In a separate Central Criminal Court trial, he was convicted of four counts of rape, 10 counts of sexual assault, one offence of oral rape and two charges of using an object to penetrate his step-daughter on dates between 2001 and 2005. The girl was aged between 11 and 15 at the time.

He was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment for abuse of the two youngest children by Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy on June 20, 2016.

Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan imposed another 12 years for abuse of the eldest child in July 2016. Both sentences were to run concurrently.

In the Court of Appeal yesterday, the man moved to appeal his conviction for abusing the two youngest children on grounds that the trial judge erred in refusing to sever the indictment to allow separate trials; wrongfully failed to discharge the jury after evidence of other allegations was “accidentally” given and that the verdict was perverse.

His barrister, Paddy McGrath, submitted to the three-judge court that it wasn’t appropriate to allow the offences involving the two youngest children to be tried together.

In refusing to sever the indictment, the trial judge referred to areas of similarity — that they were stepchildren; they were minors; there was the offering of money, and the secret nature of the offending.

Mr McGrath said none of those were capable of being unusual features, nor were they probative of any system. They were “stock in trade” features of sexual cases, he submitted.

Counsel for the DPP, Timothy O’Leary, said there were sufficient aspects of similarity to allow the offences to be tried together. A stepfather who didn’t work during the day, in the home with various young children. It was “predatory type behaviour”.

In addition to “all of that” was the money “as an inducement or otherwise” that the man had offered the victims.

Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the court would reserve judgment.

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