Donegal man jailed for rape and assault of partner's daughter (4)

He was sentenced him to eight years imprisonment for one count of rape, and seven years imprisonment for each count of sexual assault
He was sentenced him to eight years imprisonment for one count of rape, and seven years imprisonment for each count of sexual assault

A Donegal man who raped and sexually assaulted the daughter of his former partner over a period of at least five years has been jailed for eight years.

The 52-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told gardaí he had “no knowledge” or recollection of abusing the child, but that he did not doubt she was telling the truth.

At the Central Criminal Court, Mr Justice Paul McDermott sentenced him to eight years imprisonment for one count of rape, and seven years imprisonment for each count of sexual assault.

He also imposed a seven years prison term for an offence of producing child pornography. The sentences will run concurrently with each other. On the day of his scheduled trial in April of this year, the man pleaded guilty to having sexually assaulted the child in 2006 at his home, when she was four years old.

He later pleaded guilty to six further counts of sexually assaulting the child when she was aged between four and nine years old on dates between March 2008 and August 2011 and to one count of knowingly producing child pornography for the purpose of distribution, exportation, sale or show on an unknown date between August 2007 and August 2008.

The court heard that a home video recorded by the accused on a camcorder surfaced during a separate and unconnected investigation when gardaí found the video in the man's house.

The victim, now aged in her mid-teens, was present in court but left the room when the judge began to play the video on his laptop, out of view of those present. The court heard that she was aged between five and seven when the accused filmed the 30 minute video and has no memory of the video being filmed.

The investigating guard told Róisín Lacey SC, prosecuting, that the abuse came to light in 2014 after the girl's school principal became concerned that she was risk of self-harm, and contacted her mother.

The girl, then aged 13, made allegations of repeated sexual abuse by the accused while she had been staying with him. The man was the former partner of the victim's mother and also the father of her younger sister.

After their relationship broke up he took the little girl and her younger sister for regular overnight visits to his house at weekends. The girl told gardaí that the man abused her every weekend when she stayed over, usually around bath time.

She said she felt scared and sometimes cried and called out for her mother. She said she often tried to get away but the man would pull her back down and tell her to shush or she would wake her younger sister.

On one occasion, the man abused her and the girl said it was very painful, and that when she cried out loud the man slapped her across the face and told her to “shut up”.

Once when the girl was aged between four and five, and her mother had gone out to celebrate her 21st, the accused asked the child would she like to play a game.

He turned off the light and began putting things like chocolates and sweets in her mouth, and she had to guess what it was. During this game he orally raped her.

In her victim impact statement the teenage girl said every area of her life had been affected by the abuse.

Now aged 15, the girl said she found it hard to eat or sleep and didn't feel comfortable meeting people. She had stopped going to her local youth club and even walking her dog was a problem as her mother didn't want to let her out of her sight.

She said she felt “isolated, alone and worthless” and that things were especially hard at school.

The girl said she was afraid that the man's family would hate her and call her selfish for ruining his life if she told gardaí, or that people would call her a slut and a liar. She was also afraid that the man would kill her.

She said everything that reminded her of the man, including certain clothes and music, made her feel sick.

“I felt I wasn't a good daughter. I thought I was the reason my biological father killed himself a month before I was born, because I felt he knew I would be a disappointment,” she said.

The girl said she couldn't do “teenager things”, have friend over to her house, or talk to boys as she was convinced that they would hurt her as well.

“Mine and my family's life has been put on hold for three years during the investigation, it is very unjust,” she said.

The man has no previous convictions. The court heard that he had abused drugs, prescription medicine and alcohol for a long time, but had cut out the drugs about 20 years ago.

Counsel for the accused said that after his relationship with the victim's mother had ended, he began a “wild drinking spree” around the time and has no memory of the abuse.

The man's barrister said that the man told gardaí he had “no knowledge” of having committed the abuse, but that he had “absolutely no doubt” that the victim was telling the truth and that she was honest.

The man apologised to the victim through his barrister and indicated that he was prepared to apologise in person. The court heard he tried to take his life just before his case was listed for trial last April.

The man has been registered as a sex offender and will be subject to five years post-release supervision, during which he is not allowed to contact the victim

By Jessica Magee and Brion Hoban