A Wicklow man has been jailed for 10 years for the regular and systematic abuse of his stepdaughter over a four-year period.
The now 23-year-old victim, who last week described William Coster as “a horrible monster” who took her childhood, has said that she is happy for him to be named in the media.
Coster (aged 44) of Boghall Cottages, Boghall Road, Bray, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to a number of sample counts of sexually assaulting her, but had pleaded not guilty to additional charges of sex assault offences as well as 13 charges of rape and 22 charges of anal rape.
The victim was aged between 12 and 16 years old.
He has been in custody since he admitted those offences early last year.
Last December, the jury acquitted him on all the anal rape and rape charges but convicted him on every sexual assault count following a three-day trial.
Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting said that there were now a total of 49 charges of sexual assault before the court dating between 2002 and 2006.
The court heard that Coster admitted to his wife when confronted that he had both kissed and touched her daughter.
He immediately left the family home but sent over 2,000 text messages to both his victim and her mother, again admitting his guilt and saying he deserved what was coming to him.
Mr Gillane said the victim was brought up to believe the man was her biological father. He first molested her following a family holiday in 2002 and continued his abuse when they returned home.
Mr Justice Paul Carney declared Coster a sex offender and said he was taking into account the inherent gravity of the offence, the breach of trust involved, the age of the victim and the disparity in age between her and Coster, the multiplicity of offences and the effect on her.
He took into account Coster’s admissions, remorse and the fact that he left the family home when required to do so.
Mr Justice Carney sentenced Coster to 10 years in prison for those charges he was convicted on by the jury and a concurrent eight-year term for those he pleaded to. He imposed 18 months post-release supervision.
Detective Garda Gabriel O’Donoghue agreed with counsel that the abuse followed the same “pattern of events” during which Coster would summon the teenager up to his bedroom while her mother was out.
He would tell her to get into bed with him before he molested her by touching her. It continued on regular basis until she was 16 years old.
Mr Gillane said the abuse was also accompanied by “an air of menace and control” as Coster was a very controlling person who threatened his stepdaughter if she told anyone what was happening.
The abuse came to an end when the girl turned 16 and was “big enough to fight him off,” counsel said.
The victim disclosed the abuse to her mother in 2008 and the woman immediately confronted her husband.
Coster made immediate admissions saying; “I am glad she told. I am glad it’s out”. He left the family home and has not returned since.
The woman said in her victim impact statement that she went to school “no matter what” every day to get out of the house.
She was petrified of going home and used to do extracurricular activities in order to stay on at school as late as she could.
“I went around with a fake smile so no one would suspect anything,” she said.
“At the start I thought this was normal. What fathers did. I was very childish. I was afraid he would kill my family and I didn’t want anything to happen them,” the woman continued.
She said she once took more painkillers than she was supposed to because she wanted “to block out the pain and didn’t want to live anymore, to be in pain anymore”.
“I wanted it all to end. This man was a monster,” she continued before she added that at the time it felt like there was knife inside her ripping her heart and her stomach out.
“He made my life hell. I had no childhood, he took that away from me,” the victim said.
She said she often wondered did Coster abuse her because she was not his biological daughter.
“I will never get my childhood back because of him. He was a horrible monster,” the woman said.
Brendan Grehan SC defending, said his client made immediate admissions which resulted in his marriage ending.
“He lost his marriage, his children and access to them, his job, his home and his mental and physical health,” counsel said.
He said Coster was repeating the apology he already made to his step-daughter and said the man hopes she can get some counselling so she can get on with her life.
Mr Grehan said his client spent six months as a hospital inpatient in 2009 being treated for a severe depressive episode and remains on medication.