Michael O'Donoghue (43) who was described in court by his daughter Aimee Foley (19) as “a monster, a paedophile, an animal” was sentenced to seven years in jail with the final two years suspended today.
The Central Criminal Court heard he plied his daughter with alcohol and drugs before sexually abusing her when she was on access visits to his home over a six-year period.
Ms Foley broke down in tears when the sentence was handed down and had to be supported outside by her family and friends.
Before he was led away, some of Ms Foley's supporters shouted at O'Donoghue to look his daughter in the eye, while others expressed their disappointment at the length of the sentence.
Ms Foley waived her right to anonymity in order for her father to be named.
In a lengthy victim impact statement delivered at her father's sentence hearing in October, Ms Foley directly addressed O'Donoghue several times, telling him, “You have ruined me. I hope you are happy knowing you broke your own child.”
“I've called you dad five times in this statement and I hope every time you heard it, it struck you in your heart,” she said.
“It's the last time you will ever hear me call you that. You're not my dad. You're not my father. You are a monster, a paedophile, an animal.”
O'Donoghue, of Colmanstown, Ballinasloe, Co Galway, pleaded guilty to 31 counts of sexually assaulting Ms Foley, one count of raping her and one count of producing child pornography in various locations in Galway between April 2012 and April 2018.
She was aged between 12 and 17 at the time of the abuse.
The court heard O'Donoghue plied his child with alcohol and drugs, including cannabis and cocaine, before abusing her.
The court heard O'Donoghue had split up with Ms Foley's mother before she was born and the abuse took place when she had access visits to his home.
The abuse often took place when O'Donoghue's wife and other children were present in the house.
His wife continues to support him.
The abuse came to light in 2020 when Ms Foley confided in college friends and then her mother.
O'Donoghue then turned himself into gardaí before they had interviewed Ms Foley telling them: “I'll make it easy for you boys. I did it. I sexually assaulted my daughter and I recorded it on my mobile phone.”
Sentencing the man today, Mr Justice David Keane said O'Donoghue had engaged in the most serious breach of trust between a parent and a child.
“He had gone to court to secure custody of his child, only to grotesquely betray his parental responsibilities by sexualising, demeaning and degrading Aimee Foley for his own gratification,” Mr Justice Keane said.
He noted O'Donoghue had emotionally manipulated his daughter as well as sexually abusing her, that he plied her with alcohol and drugs when she was a child and that on one occasion he recorded the abuse.
The judge said Ms Foley was an impressive witness who had outlined the psychological trauma she endured at the hands of her father.
He wished her well in her continuing recovery.
Mr Justice Keane outlined a number of mitigating factors, including O'Donoghue's early and “unusual” admissions to gardaí – made before they had got a statement from Ms Foley.
The judge said these admissions meant Ms Foley did not have to go through a trial process.
He noted O'Donoghue has been receiving alcohol addiction and sexual offender counselling and is considered to be at a low risk of re-offending.
The judge set a headline sentence of 12 years, but reduced it to seven years, taking the mitigating factors into account.
He suspended the last two years of that sentence on a number of conditions, including that O'Donoghue have no contact with children under the age of 18 without getting permission from the Probation Service.
He backdated the sentence to when O'Donoghue went into custody in April 2019.