A man who regularly sexually abused his step-daughter in the family home while her mother was working has been jailed for 12 years.
The Central Criminal Court heard the 42-year-old man, a foreign national who admitted defilement of the child, initially thought the crime was “OK under Irish law” but now accepts it is not.
He was later convicted by a jury, after a trial, of charges of raping his step-daughter. His lawyer told the court he does not accept those verdicts.
In her victim impact statement, the girl said the family were experiencing financial and other implications from the man no longer being in the home. She said she sometimes felt these were her fault.
She said she now suffers self-esteem, worry and stress issues. She was unable to sleep and her school work suffered.
She said she had broken down when she heard the verdict. “I sometimes feel as if I am at the bottom of the ocean,” she said, “with no light at all.” She does not want to see the man again, the court heard.
Last January, the man pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three counts of defilement of a child under the age of seventeen years old on dates between March and June 2017.
He had pleaded not guilty to one count of oral rape, 12 counts of rape and three counts of defilement of the same girl on dates between 2011 and 2017. He also denied a further count of sexual exploitation of the girl in July 2017.
The jury convicted him of all these charges in January. The victim was aged between 11 and almost 16 years old at the time of the offences.
Mr Justice Michael White said the offences had been a “serious violation of a child” which involved a very serious breach of trust as the man had been in a position of authority. He also noted the length of time the offences continued and the severity of the abuse.
He took into account that the man was an Irish citizen of foreign extraction with very little English and prison would be more difficult as a result. He also noted the man had no previous convictions and had been a good provider.
The judge said he was particularly disturbed by the fact that the “intolerable” abuse was happening “as a matter of rote.”
“When you think of the nature of the offences, it does not bear thinking about,” said Mr Justice White. The judge imposed concurrent sentences totalling 12 years.
A local garda told Vincent Heneghan SC, prosecuting, that the abuse began with oral rape when the victim was 11 years old and the man later began having sex with her “on a highly regular basis” in the family home while the child's mother was away working.
The sexual abuse continued until June 2017 when she was 15 years old. After making a disclosure to members of her family she made a complaint to gardaí in July 2017.
The count of sexual exploitation refers to a phone call between the victim and the man, which was heard on loudspeaker by family members in July 2017. The accused invited the child to have sex with him for €200.
The court heard the man effectively controlled the victim during the time of the offences in a domestic situation where he was in a position of authority.
Damien Colgan SC, defending, said his client accepted what he did was wrong and stands over his guilty pleas in relation to three charges of defilement. He said the man does not accept the jury verdicts on the other counts.
He said the man had no previous convictions, a good work history and had abided by all his bail conditions. He asked the court to take into account that the man would be serving his sentence as a foreign national in an Irish prison.