A woman who was raped as a child by her father for 10 years told gardaí that the abuse became as frequent as having dinner, a court has heard.
Fiona Doyle (nee O’Brien) said her father Patrick O'Brien, now aged 72, raped her every night when her mother went out to play bingo.
Waiving her right to anonymity, she told the Central Criminal Court that no sentence imposed on O'Brien could “undo the enormous damage that my father has done to me.”
She said: “It is something I have lived with since I was a young child and it's something I will have to live with until the day I die”.
As a result of the abuse, she said, her first marriage failed and she made two serious suicide attempts.
She said she attempted to change her own appearance through plastic surgery, saying: “I had many operations which I see now was a form of self mutilation. I have the many scars to prove it.”
Patrick O'Brien, of Old Court Avenue, Bray, Co Wicklow pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to 16 charges of the rape and indecent assault of Fiona Doyle at Mackintosh Park, Pottery Road., Dun Laoghaire from 1973 to 1982.
He was remanded on continuing bail to appear before Mr Justice Paul Carney for sentencing next Monday.
The abuse began when O'Brien raped the victim on the night before she was to make her First Holy Communion when she was about seven years old.
Ms Doyle told the court: “There was none of the usual excitement you'd expect in a family home where such a big occasion was to happen the next day.
“My mother went off to bingo, leaving me at the mercy of my father. Almost certainly knowing what he would do to me. My father raped me that night. I remember lying in bed that night but being unable to sleep because of the pain”.
Detective Garda Darragh Phelan told Monika Leech BL, prosecuting, that Ms Doyle described the abuse as taking place every evening and being “as frequent as having dinner”.
The abuse involved incidents of various forms of rape. When Ms Doyle was aged 12 she spent three days in hospital receiving treatment for anal warts.
She said she would continue watching television while he raped her. She told gardaí she hated it but that she would turn herself into a zombie during each incident.
Detective Phelan said there was a culture of fear and violence in the home and that Ms Doyle's mother would call her a whore while beating her.
Ms Doyle said she believes her mother knew about the abuse and that she was cast as “the other woman” in an “evil marriage”.
When the family decided to move to England, Ms Doyle was told to stay behind with her father and he moved her into his bedroom and began abusing her “whenever it suited him”.
O'Brien initially denied the allegations and told gardaí she was making them because “I was very hard on her because of the way she was dressing”.
He later admitted abusing her at least once a week for 10 years and said it “became normal”. He said he knew it was wrong, but kept doing it.
He told gardaí: “I'm sorry for what happened, especially her, because she was good to us”.
Detective Phelan told the court: “It may be the only time he showed remorse”.
Ms Leech told the court that the state viewed O’Brien’s offending as being at the upper end of the scale.
Mary Rose Gearty SC, defending, said that her client is an elderly man in “extremely poor health” who has taken full responsibility for these grave offences.
She said he suffers from arthritis and is in on-going and constant pain for which he wears a morphine patch. He falls regularly and currently has some broken ribs due to a recent fall.
She said he receives eight hours of oxygen as he sleeps at night, has a heart condition and takes over 15 different tablets each day.
She said he made “genuinely helpful” admissions and entered a guilty plea instead of “cynically” trying to sit and wait it out.
Mr Justice Carney initially remanded O'Brien in custody for sentencing next Monday but after hearing from Ms Gearty that her client is not a flight risk he remanded him on continuing bail until then.
Mr Justice Carney said that he was doing this “provided no hope is read into it”.