A Sligo man has today been convicted of the rape and sexual abuse of his then 13-year-old daughter, who claims he fathered her child.
The 48-year-old man, who has a previous conviction for rape and sexual abuse of another teenage girl, has been remanded in custody pending sentence next month.
He had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to eight counts of sexual assault and seven counts of rape at the family home between September 2005 and September 2007.
The complainant, now aged 19, said that her father sexually abused her once every two to three weeks from when she was aged 13.
The jury previously heard evidence of DNA tests which showed that the man is 12,000 times more likely to have fathered his daughter’s child than anyone else unrelated to him.
The jury of eight men and four women took just over one hour considering the verdict before returning unanimous guilty verdicts on all counts. It was day-nine of the trial.
Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy thanked the members of the jury for their service and excused them from duty for 10 years. He ordered a victim impact report and registered the man a sex offender.
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 touch her and then rape her. She told prosecuting counsel, Isobel Kennedy SC, 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.”
“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.
Detective Garda Pauline O'Neill told the court 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.”