Man who sexually abused his sister "a couple of hundred times" has appeal dismissed

Man who sexually abused his sister "a couple of hundred times" has appeal dismissed

A man who sexually abused his young sister “in excess of a couple of hundred times” has lost an appeal against the severity of his nine year prison sentence.

The 53-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the victim's identity, had pleaded not guilty to 16 sample counts of indecently assaulting his sister at the family home on dates between March 1, 1983 and March 1, 1987, when she was aged between 7 and 11 and he was aged between 21 and 25.

He was found guilty by a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court and sentenced to nine years imprisonment by Judge Martin Nolan on on January 12, 2015.

Dismissing the man's appeal against sentence yesterday, Mr Justice George Birmingham said the abuse commenced around the time of the victim's first communion and occurred approximately four or five times a week.

The abuse occurred “in excess of a couple of hundred times” and continued until the girl attended sex education classes when she realised the significance of what was happening to her.

The man's barrister, Tara Burns SC, submitted that the Circuit Court judge erred in how he structured the sentence. Having determined that the abuse itself was not the most serious of its kind, she said, the judge erred in aggravating it by adding as an additional element its duration over a continuous period of time.

Ms Burns said it was unknown what the judge added on for the continuing behaviour and, as a result, he fell into error.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the sentence fell on the upper end of the scale – the maximum sentence is 10 years. However, it did not fall outside the range available.

He said the judge's approach in imposing a substantial sentence on one count and taking the others into consideration, while not the only approach available to him, was not an impermissible one.

In those circumstance, Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice John Edwards, dismissed the appeal.

Mr Justice Birmingham said there were aggravating factors present in this case such as the brother-sister relationship, the duration spanning as it did such a significant part of the injured party's childhood and the frequency of abuse.

While there were factors in the accused's favour and the judge stated that he was having regard to them, the absence of a plea meant there was little scope for mitigation, Mr Justice Birmingham said.