Irish child rapist was able to travel to UK to commit further offences

Irish child rapist was able to travel to UK to commit further offences

A child rapist was able to travel to the UK and commit further offences after being interviewed by gardaí here who had seen a video of him raping an 11 year old girl.

Michael Smith (53) from Tipperary groomed, raped and sexually assaulted the girl, who he considered to be his daughter, for ten years before going to the UK where he was jailed for grooming and sexually abusing a teenage girl he meet through a social media site.

The Central Criminal Court heard that the Irish victim went to gardaí about the abuse in 2004 and a follow-up search uncovered a recording of him raping the child when she was 11. Smith was interviewed voluntarily and went to England shortly afterwards.

Smith previously of Maplewood Way, Tallaght, pleaded guilty to nine counts of rape, two counts of oral rape, one count of possession of child pornography and assault causing harm of Michelle Smith at addresses in Rathmines, Tallaght and Cabra on dates between 1994 and 2004.

Sergeant Paul Maher revealed that Smith, who has no previous Irish convictions, was jailed in England for engaging in sexual activity with a child, inciting a child to engage in sex and possessing indecent material.

The Irish victim , who has waived her right to anonymity, believed that Smith was her father at the time of the abuse.

Sgt Maher told Caroline Cummings BL, prosecuting, that the victim reported her father's abuse in March 2004, when she was 17 years old. She said she had been continuously sexually abused by him from the age of eight.

Smith moved between various Dublin residences over the years and would have regular sex with his victim at these addresses. The victim told gardaí she thought the sex was normal and that Smith had on several occasions recorded the abuse on a camcorder.

Sgt Maher said the victim also told him that Smith punched her in the face, slammed her head into a wall and slapped her till she wet herself out of fright on one occasion at the Maplewood Way address.

Following the victim's complaint to gardaí in 2004, a search warrant for Smith's home and workplace was obtained and cassettes were recovered with recordings of the victim.

Sgt Maher told Ms Cummings that one recording depicted Smith having sex with the victim when she was 11 years old.

The victim revealed in a statement, read out in court, that nobody knew about the abuse and a lot of people had liked Smith.

“Anyone can by a predator and you'd never know unless the victim speaks up,” she said.

She added: “I find it very hard to sleep at night with all the thoughts, questions and memories in my head.”

Describing a lonely and terrified childhood, she said: “This was not a one-off thing that left after affects. I don't have a life...He raised me to be when he needed me to be. This is all I know.”

Sgt Maher said Smith left Ireland shortly after he had been interviewed voluntarily by gardaí.

English authorities stopped Smith in 2008 with a 15-year-old girl, whom he had groomed online for sex by posing as an older teenage boy about three years previously.

Smith was also caught with over 19,000 images of child pornography at the lowest level of seriousness according to a UK scale and 19 images in the most serious category.

He was extradited back to Ireland after his release from a UK prison in October 2014.

Sgt Maher agreed with Pauline Walley SC, defending, that her client's guilty pleas had spared the victim the trauma of a trial.

He further accepted that Smith had completed two sexual offences courses while in jail in England.

Ms Walley submitted to Mr Justice Carroll Moran that her client “fully accepts the appalling catalogue of abuse meted out to the injured party.”

She said her client had suffered abuse in his family home in Clonmel, Tipperary and was sent to an industrial school from the age of ten to 16.

Counsel said Smith was physically abused and saw other types of abuse at this institution. She submitted that the pattern of Smith's early life “imprinted him” in later years.

She said Smith's remorse is genuine, as evident in his early plea, and that he has expressed willingness to engage in other treatment programmes in jail.

The victim said that the abuse began when Smith lived with her mother. He would take her out in the car at night, park outside a factory and feel her vagina. He assaulted her like this at home on one occasion when her mother was asleep.

The abuse escalated when Smith moved out of the family home and rented a flat in Sunbury Gardens. The victim went to live with Smith for a year when she was 11 or 12 years old. During that time they slept together in a single bed and he began having sex with her.

She said she thought the sex, which happened a few times a week, was normal. After sex, Smith would thank her and say goodnight. When she returned to live at her mother's house, she would visit at the weekend with her younger sister and the rape would take place when the younger sibling had fallen asleep. The victim remembered still being prepubescent at this time.

One one occasion Smith told her to strip slowly in front of a camcorder, telling her it would give him something to watch during the week. This happened a further five or six times, she said.

Smith moved to Blackhorse Avenue and the victim lived with him up to June 2001 when she was between 12 and 14 years old. During this time he had sex with her regularly and also began asking for oral and anal sex. She said she told him that anal sex was painful but that he did it anyway.

The victim moved in with her mother after telling her about the assault at Maplewood Way, but eventually began visiting Smith again and the abuse continued.

Mr Justice Moran remanded Smith in custody until sentence finalisation on Friday.