Man jailed for life for raping his children to appeal conviction

Central Criminal Court
Central Criminal Court

A 78-year-old father jailed for life for repeatedly raping his two young daughters and sexually abusing his son has moved to appeal his conviction.

The Dublin man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was convicted in August 2010 of 87 counts of sexually assaulting and raping his two daughters when they were aged between five and 11 and sexually assaulting his son when he was aged between three and six at various locations from 1997 to 2002. He had denied the charges.

He was found guilty by a Central Criminal Court jury following a seven week trial and sentenced to life imprisonment by Mr Justice George Birmingham on October 4 2010 for the rape of his daughters. He was given further determinate sentences for other offences.

The Court of Appeal heard today that although the man had come to court for his appeal, he was too ill to sit through the hearing which was advanced by his legal team of Dominic McGinn SC and Miceál O'Connor BL.

He moved to appeal his conviction on 12 discrete grounds.

Mr McGinn submitted on the man's behalf that the trial judge erred in “over warning” the jury “not to conduct internet searches about the defendant”, erred by misdirecting the jury in relation to corroboration, erred in refusing to direct an acquittal on certain counts and erred in allowing one of the victims to give evidence via video link when they were no longer a minor.

It was further submitted on his behalf that the trial judge erred in refusing to adjourn the trial, firstly, to allow his lawyers time to view video footage necessary for the proper preparation of a defence, secondly, when a large volume of disclosure had been provided two weeks before the trial and thirdly, when adverse publicity surrounding the man had recently been published in the press.

Mr McGinn further submitted that the evidence of the three complainants was “inherently unreliable” in that they were recalling matters that had allegedly occured when they were young children; there were conflicts between their evidence and that of independent witnesses and there was no corroborative evidence.

Finally, Mr McGinn submitted that the trial judge erred in refusing to grant a direction to acquit on all counts given the circumstances.

Reserving judgment, Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the Court of Appeal would expect to be in a position to give judgment on October 29 next.

Initially arraigned on 113 counts, the jury had acquitted him on two, failed to agree on seven and were ordered to return verdicts of not guilty by the trial judge on 17 further counts.

His trial took place between July 5 and August 21 2010.