Man convicted of raping his daughter can continue hunger strike, court rules

The court heard the man described his daughter as "an unhinged fantasist with a history of making false allegations".
Man convicted of raping his daughter can continue hunger strike, court rules
File image

A man on the 47th day of a prison hunger strike over what he says is his "wrongful conviction" for the rape of his daughter has the mental capacity to decide whether he wants to continue to refuse food, the High Court has ruled.

The court heard the man described his daughter as "an unhinged fantasist with a history of making false allegations".

He was jailed in April 2018 for 15 years, with one year suspended, for the rape of his daughter when she was aged between seven and 11.

He claims he is innocent and he will continue to refuse food, though he is taking water and coffee, until his daughter "comes forward and tells the truth".

However, he is also to discuss with his wife what he will do, after a ruling by Ms Justice Tara Burns that he has the mental capacity to make a decision to refuse food.

The prison authorities had asked the court to make certain declarations in relation to his capacity.

Following evidence today, including from two psychiatrists and a psychologist who said he was not suffering from any mental illness, the judge said he had a right to bodily integrity which the courts have found previously "may prevail" over the obligation of the State to preserve life.

Following the decision, the judge urged him to reconsider continuing the strike for reasons including that his wife is a non-national and has no other family here.

His wife is not the mother of the complainant whose own mother, the man's partner, died in 2006.

In 2010, the complainant and her sister were removed from his care and he says that on March 29 last, on what was the anniversary of "10 years of insanity visited upon me by the Irish State," he began his hunger strike.

He maintained his innocence in the Central Criminal Court, where a jury found him guilty, and his failed appeal to the Court of Appeal (CoA).

His counsel Micheál Higgins said notwithstanding that he is seeking a further appeal to the Supreme Court and that he could die on hunger strike before that happens, he wants to continue his protest.

Counsel said the CoA heard evidence that the man’s then solicitor had a conversation with the solicitor in which the daughter allegedly was "indicating she had lied".

There was also further evidence of a Facebook conversation with a family friend in which she allegedly said "her father was not a rapist and he did not do those things to me," he said.

The CoA also heard the daughter had visited her father in prison which was important in the context of previous evidence when she said she was in "mortal fear" of him, counsel said.

However, in her evidence to the CoA, notwithstanding those matters, she maintained the original allegations were correct. The CoA dismissed the appeal last year.

In his evidence via video link from prison on Friday, the man agreed with his counsel that in a letter he wrote to the prison governor announcing his hunger strike he said the Irish courts "failed in their duty" to put things right "despite the overwhelming evidence put in front of them".

His daughter was the "only one who can put this right" and he was making a "heartfelt plea" that she "come forward and put on record the absolute truth about the false allegations".

He was taking the hunger strike action as a "sovereign individual" with a right to self determination.

He did not wish to die and would like to spend "my golden years with my wife but I am put in an impossible situation".

He also believed the fact that his daughter had "undergone a number of years of therapy and medication may explain in part the allegations she made."

Asked by the judge what he wanted from the court if she had "a magic wand and could grant his wish" so he would stop the protest, he said it was that his daughter "come forward and tell the truth".

"She continues to run away from it and it is going to impact on her as her conscience develops and she perhaps has children of her own as she gets older," he said.

"She has given herself a life sentence until she faces up to what she has done and exposes the people who put her put to this."

She had built "a whole reality around her'' and has a boyfriend who believes she was abused as a child.

"I guess she does not want to expose herself as being a really horrible person."

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.