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Brave Survivor Aimee slams sentence as paedophile father could be free in under three years

'I thought I might as well be dead because he is going to be out before you can blink. I was gasping for breath'   

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Aimee was left distraught by the sentence passed on her father

Aimee was left distraught by the sentence passed on her father

Aimee was left distraught by the sentence passed on her father

Aimee Foley walked out of court 12 in the Criminal Courts of Justice and collapsed into her mother's arms. "Why did I bother?" she said.

Her mother, Camille, held Aimee for as long as she could before they both fell on the cold marble floor.

Moments earlier, her father, Michael O'Donoghue (44) from Ennistymon, Co Clare was sentenced to five years for brutally raping and abusing his only daughter.

O'Donoghue, with an address of Colmanstown, Ballinasloe, Co Galway, pleaded guilty to 31 counts of sexually assaulting Aimee, one count of raping her and one count of producing child pornography.

Today Aimee (20) breaks her silence. She cannot make peace with the fact that any man that brutalises a child could be jailed for just five years.

The Director of Public Prosecutions recently informed Aimee it would appeal the leniency of the sentence handed down by Mr Justice David Keane on December 13.

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Michael O’Donoghue drugged and raped his daughter

Michael O’Donoghue drugged and raped his daughter

Michael O’Donoghue drugged and raped his daughter

 

The Central Criminal Court heard O'Donoghue plied his daughter with alcohol and drugs before assaulting her when she was on access visits to his home.

When Aimee was 12, he began having "highly sexualised" conversations with her. He told her he liked to watch "daddy/daughter porn".

The abuse grew increasingly brazen and depraved.

On one occasion at a family wedding, when Aimee was aged 13, she was told by other family members to escort her drunk dad to his hotel room.

O'Donoghue grabbed her in the hotel corridor and said if he wanted, he could "bend her over and rape her", the court heard.

He then pinned her to a wall and sexually assaulted her. This attack was witnessed by a member of his extended family who came to Aimee's aid.

When confronted by members of his family, O'Donoghue said he mistook Aimee for his wife.

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In December 2016, when Aimee was aged 15, she was alone with her father overnight. He gave her alcohol and cannabis, and showed her how to snort cocaine. He then brutally raped her. He recorded the abuse on his phone.

There is something about Aimee. She's beautiful, warm, highly intelligent and funny. She carries the whole room with her when she speaks. Aimee deserves so much more than the hand she was dealt in life and by the justice system.

In his sentencing, the judge said O'Donoghue was guilty of a grotesque "betrayal of parental responsibilities".

Setting a headline sentence of 12 years, he reduced it to seven years, taking mitigating factors into account.

The judge then suspended the final two years; given time served, O'Donoghue will be a free man in less than three years.

"I walked out of that courtroom and I burst into tears," Aimee says.

"I thought I might as well be dead because he is going to be out before you can blink. I was gasping for breath."

Her mother Camille says: "I held her until I couldn't hold her up anymore.

"She was almost screaming, saying, 'let them see what they are after doing to me'."

Throughout the whole criminal process, Aimee's family and the investigating gardaí had never seen her cry.

"I am numb and I approach it in a matter-of-fact way. It's the only way I think I can survive it all," Aimee says.

"I feel like everyone I know views me differently now. It's almost like I'm not the same person they grew up with anymore. I want people to treat me the way they always did.

"How can anyone admit these crimes and receive a sentence like that?"

The mitigating factors the judge took into account when he spared O'Donoghue lengthier jail time included his "unusual" admissions to gardaí.

O'Donoghue turned himself into gardaí before they had taken a formal statement from Aimee, 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."

Days earlier, O'Donoghue had been confronted by his family after Aimee told them about the abuse.

The judge credited O'Donoghue for saving Aimee with the ordeal of a trial. She sees it differently.

"He has never made a single choice in his life to spare me any suffering," she says.

"He only reported himself when the net was closing in. He knew he was going to get less time for handing himself in.

"He studied criminal psychology and as soon as he knew I was going to report him, he had the ball rolling in his head about mitigating factors.

"That man lives for the plan and for control. Take one look at his bookshelf; it's all criminal mastermind books.

"He made a plan to get himself under 10 years [prison time], and he did it exactly.

"Does a sentence like that deter a rapist? What it does is deter young women and men who have been abused from coming forward."

As O'Donoghue was being led away by prison officers, Camille Foley shouted at him to look his daughter in the eye. And he did.

"He looked at me, he raised an eyebrow, and he just smirked.

"It was the signature Michael O'Donoghue look. Almost saying, 'I've got you again. I won'," Aimee says.

"Any memory I have of growing up with him are all bad. He was constantly humiliating me and verbally abusing and insulting me.

"He ruled by terror and manipulation."

The horror of Aimee's experiences at the hands of the man she should have trusted most has traumatised her to the extent she endures constant nightmares, panic attacks and sleep paralysis.

Camille fought to protect her daughter from him.

"When Aimee was born, I didn't want him to have anything to do with us," she says.

"The morning of my Leaving Cert, English paper one, I got my first solicitors letter from him saying he was looking for guardianship.

"We went to court and he was granted supervised access to Aimee.

"Then he was allowed to bring her for short visits to his mother's home. He later came to me saying he wanted overnight visitation. I desperately didn't want that.

"He said he wanted her every weekend, to which I said no way, and then he threatened to bring me to court again.

"I got advice from a solicitor, and I was told to offer him every second weekend, or else I was risking him getting even more access.

"I remember the first weekend she left with him, and I cried and cried and cried."

Camille first noticed a change in Aimee's behaviour when she was around six.

"As she got older, her anxiety got worse. Every night at nine o'clock she had to phone him, and everything in the house would have to go silent.

"If it went to 10 past nine. Aimee would have a complete breakdown.

"I always knew there was something with Aimee, but I didn't know what it was.

"And then, when she told me what had been happening, it was like that piece of the jigsaw finally fit, and it was like your worst nightmare coming true."

As the Foley family await an appeal date, Aimee is fighting to build a new life. She is gifted musically and academically; her future is bright.

Aimee believes she can heal from the scars of the past, but she has a battle ahead.

"The only thing I ever wanted in my life was a dad, but instead I got a monster."

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