Man appeals severity of 15-year jail sentence for repeated rape of daughter

Counsel says sentencing judge had erred by finding the offences were at 'the very apex of the serious offence of rape'
Man appeals severity of 15-year jail sentence for repeated rape of daughter

A man sentenced to 15 years in prison for raping and sexually assaulting his daughter on a repeated basis over a 12-year period has appealed against the severity of his jail term for the offences.

The man, who told gardaí he had regarded the girl as his daughter by day and “ partner” by night, had pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court in October 2018 to 21 sample charges including rape, attempted rape, and sexual assault at locations in Dublin and Leinster on dates between January 2006 and December 2017.

His daughter was aged between 5 and 17 years at the time of the offences.

The man, who cannot be named in order to protect the victim’s identity, also pleaded guilty to three counts of assault causing harm to his daughter on dates between June 2016 and December 2017.

The 54-year-old was sentenced to 18 years in prison with the final three years suspended.

Counsel for the man, Caroline Biggs, told the Court of Appeal today that the main ground of appeal was that the sentencing judge, Mr Justice Michael White, had erred in principle by fixing a life sentence as the appropriate headline sentence.

While the case contained “a serious and appalling set of circumstances", which included encouraging the victim to consume alcohol and watch pornography and a horrific breach of trust of a father-daughter relationship, Ms Biggs said the judge had erred by finding the offences were at “the very apex of the serious offence of rape".

She suggested the appropriate headline sentence should have been in the range of between 10 and 15 years.

Ms Biggs said Mr Justice White had also given insufficient credit to the many mitigating factors in the case, including the man’s early guilty plea and his full co-operation with gardaí.

She said the man had accepted the blame was all his and had left the family home immediately after the offences had been reported and became homeless.

Ms Biggs said there had been a history of the man being defiled by male members of his own family.

She claimed similar cases in terms of gravity had received headlines sentences of 10-15 years.

However, the president of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice George Birmingham, presiding, with Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice Maurice Collins, said he found the ground of appeal against the headline sentence of a life sentence was “very surprising” given the offences were among the most serious cases that the courts have had to handle.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the DPP would have been “pushing an open door” in appealing on grounds of leniency if a headline sentence of 10-15 years had been fixed.

Conor Devally, for the DPP, argued there had been no error in fixing a headline sentence of life imprisonment given the large number of aggravating factors in the case.

The Court of Appeal reserved its ruling in the case until a later date.

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