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Man convicted of abusing daughter can have name removed from sex offender register

CourtsBy Sunday World
The obligations include having to notify gardai of any change of address
The obligations include having to notify gardai of any change of address

A court has said that a man convicted fifteen years ago of abusing his daughter in the 1970s can now have his name removed from the sex offender's register.

The 61-year-old Dublin man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty after a trial in March 2000 of indecently assaulting his daughter over the course of five years from when she was aged just seven.

He was also convicted of sexually assaulting her when she was 23 years old and had fallen asleep in his house after they had been drinking together. He was jailed for a total of two years in 2000 for all offences. He had denied all charges.

Today at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court Judge Martin Nolan said that he could not find any reason to keep the man on the register after the Probation Services placed him at a low risk of re-offending.

Judge Nolan said that no assessment could ever say that a person was at no risk of re-offending so the low risk was probably the best that could be said.

He said the purpose of the sex offender's register was to monitor people who may be a danger to society and so the practical consideration for the court must be the risk of a person re-offending.

“Is it in the interest of the common good to have a person who is low risk on the register? The common good is not served by having him on the register,” he said.

Judge Nolan said that because this was a novel application he would put a stay on his order for month to allow time for the State to appeal his decision. This was the first time the court had ruled on an application like this, he said.

The offender told the court that he was not a danger to the public and that he wanted to be removed of the obligations and monitoring that came from being on the register.

The obligations include having to notify gardai of any change of address.

The law allows for a court to remove an offender from the register ten years after a conviction if the court is satisfied that the interest of the common good is no longer served by having the person on the register. Judge Nolan said it was not in the interest of the common good to impose restrictions on the public where a person did not pose a current risk to society.

He previously ordered that the Probation Services carry out a risk assessment of the man.

James Dwyer BL, prosecuting, said that the man was identified as being in a category of men who were at low risk of re-conviction. He added that this assessment was based on the man's age and profile.

Last week Judge Nolan said he wanted time to read the risk assessment report fully. He said he would base his decision on the man's future risk to children.

A garda testified that he was involved with the monitoring of this man and other sex offenders. He said he called unannounced to the man's home regularly to ensure compliance with the restrictions under the Sex Offenders Act. He said there were four visits so far in 2015 and six in 2014.

He said the man was not under any undue attention and that he was the only person to have “any sort of knowledge” of the man's situation.

He said: “The common good is being served. The offences were serious offences which took place over a period of time. I ensure there are no child protection issues. We clear this with the HSE.”

By Declan Brennan