An elderly man given nine months for abusing his son over the course of a decade has had his jail term increased by the Court of Appeal.
The 74-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to 17 counts of indecent assault and two counts of sexual assault in Co Offaly between 1981 and 1992, when his son was aged nine to 21.
He was sentenced to five years imprisonment with the final four years and three months suspended by Judge Keenan Johnson on March 21, 2018.
The Court of Appeal found his nine-month jail term to be “unduly lenient” today on foot of an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions. He was accordingly jailed for two years. A feature of the sentence was an offer of €10,000 restitution - the man's life savings - which was accepted.
Giving judgment in the three-judge court, Mr Justice John Edwards said the abuse occurred in different areas of the family home and, in one instance, the man’s place of work. It involved masturbation of both himself and the victim, oral sex and the rubbing of himself on the victim from the waist down.
In one instance, there was attempted anal penetration, which only ceased when the victim complained it was sore. He told his son not to disclose the abuse to his mother.
The victim became depressed around the age of 21 and required hospitalisation. He started to make disclosures and eventually went to the gardaí.
Mr Justice Edwards said the sentencing judge correctly characterised the victim impact statement as harrowing, dignified and thought-provoking. It detailed the devastating effects the abuse had on him and the wider family, which was now divided.
He said the court considered seven years to be an appropriate headline sentence, which involved consecutive sentences, and a two-year discount to take account of the totality principle.
However, he said too much weight was attached to the mitigating factors - namely, the man’s guilty plea, his otherwise good character, good work record and the fact he was a man in his mid 70s whose wife was seriously unwell, and was in need of his care.
The case called for a custodial sentence to be measured in years rather than months, the judge said.
Mr Justice Edwards, who sat with President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Michael Peart, resentenced the man to five years imprisonment with the final three years suspended.
The man is entitled to credit for the nine months he has already served. His return to custody was put back to allow him get his affairs in order.