Vile sex beast who abused stepdaughter has appeal dismissed

Sex beast Reginald Arnold
Sex beast Reginald Arnold

A man jailed for the sexual abuse and attempted rape of his stepdaughter has had appeals against his conviction and sentence dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

Reginald Arnold (58) of Michael Fitzgerald Road, Togher, Cork, had pleaded not guilty to sexual assault, attempted rape and restricting the personal liberty of a child for the purpose of sexual exploitation at his home between April 2008 and August 2010.

He was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment with the final two suspended by Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy on June 19, 2014.

Arnold had appeals against his conviction and sentence dismissed today in the Court of Appeal.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice George Birmingham said Arnold and his stepdaughter, who had waived her right to anonymity so that he could be identified, lived together at their home in Cork with her mother, who Arnold married in 2008. The abuse began when she was aged 12.

In her evidence, the victim described a number of incidents involving touching, masturbation, being tied to a bed and attempted rape.

Counsel for Arnold, Michael Bowman SC, submitted that the trial judge ought to have given a corroboration warning in the context of a conflict between the victim's evidence and a witness statement by her friend in relation to a sleepover.

On that occasion, Arnold asked her friend for a kiss but she said no. He then turned to his step-daughter, kissed her and attempted to put his tongue in her mouth.

The victim's friend stated that she did not remember anything strange happening which was central to the argument advanced about a requirement for a corroboration warning.

Mr Justice Birmingham said there was no basis for suggesting that the discretion enjoyed by the trial judge could only be exercised one way. He said corroboration warnings were not given as a matter of routine. The issue was by statute a matter for the judge's discretion and authorities stated that appeal courts should be slow to intervene.

If the Court of Appeal were to conclude that the circumstances of this case mandated a corroboration warning then the cases where one was required would be few and the legislative policy would be set at nought, the judge said.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, dismissed the conviction appeal.

Turning to the question of sentence, Mr Justice Birmingham said there had been no guilty plea. It meant the scope for mitigation and leniency was reduced.

The court accepted that then defence counsel was, as one would expect, restrained and respectable in his cross examination of the victim. "But in truth that is what is to be expected," the judge said.

Overall, he said the sentence could not be said to fall outside the range of sentences available to the trial judge.

Accordingly his sentence appeal was dismissed.

Ruaidhrí Giblin