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sentence Abusive parents who left daughter (9) with permanent brain damage get 14 years in prison

A garda inspector has welcomed the sentence, saying what the couple did was “tantamount to torture”

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Courts of Criminal Justice

Courts of Criminal Justice

Courts of Criminal Justice

A garda inspector in the case of two parents jailed for 14 years for the “savage” abuse of their child has welcomed the sentence, saying what the couple did was “tantamount to torture”.

The 39-year-old man and 37-year-old woman were today jailed for the extreme abuse of their then nine-year-old daughter, who was left with a catastrophic brain injury.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard the couple believed the girl was possessed by an evil spirit and that they inflicted “wanton cruelty” on her as a result.

The then nine-year-old girl was regularly punched, beaten with a belt and a stick, choked, bitten and badly burned all over her body at the hands of her parents, whose other children testified against them at trial last year.

The jury heard evidence that at one stage the father told a detective that he carried out a ritual to get the “devil” to leave his child's body.

The inspector, who can't be named to protect the anonymity of the child, said the sentence handed down to both parents was “very, very appropriate”.

“This was a savage attack on a nine-year-old girl,” the inspector told reporters outside court. “The judge commented himself that this was a savage attack which was almost tantamount to torture of this child by her parents.”

The inspector said the fact the parents claimed they were trying to do an exorcism on the child “didn't wash” with the court.

Handing down sentence today, Judge Martin Nolan said the evidence that the parents thought their child was possessed by an evil spirit provided “no defence or excuse”.

“It wasn't the child who was possessed at the time. I think it was the parents,” the judge said.

The girl is now in a care centre and can no longer walk, talk or sit independently since the brain injury.

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Her 39-year-old father and 37-year-old mother were each convicted by a jury of two counts of assault causing serious harm and three counts of child cruelty at the family home in Dublin on dates between June 28 and July 2, 2019.

The inspector said this type of crime was an outlier and “not a crime that we would see much of at all”.

“It's no reflection on anyone else's faith that these two people took it upon themselves to torture their child almost to death.”

The inspector said the little girl won't live a full and proper life and will require 24/7 care for the rest of her life.

“The only thing we would hope to come out of this is that Ireland is a place where children have a right to be kept safe by the people that love them most – their parents – and that this type of offence will not be tolerated here,” he said.

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