Man jailed for 56 indecent assaults on toddler cousin appeals 10-year sentence

Paul Neilan

Reporter:

Paul Neilan

Man jailed for 56 indecent assaults on toddler cousin appeals 10-year sentence

A man jailed for ten years for repeatedly indecently assaulting his toddler cousin has appealed against the severity of his sentence at the Court of Appeal on Tuesday.

The man, who cannot be named so that his victim cannot be identified, was sentenced in May of last year at Dublin Circuit Court for 56 counts of indecent assault on the child over a four-year period.

Following the trial last January, a jury convicted him of the 56 indecent assaults committed between January 1982 and August 1986 at a place in Dublin.

The man, now 53, began abusing his cousin when she was aged around two and a half. The abuse involved him forcing his penis into her mouth and he would place the child on a toilet seat to facilitate the assaults.

He was aged 15 when the abuse began and was under 18 for the majority of the assaults.

At the trial, the woman said she had no recollection of a time when she was not terrified. She said her abuser stole her ability to love and feel her home to be a place of refuge.

The trial heard she tried to kill herself at the age of 15 and later felt guilty during the trial itself about “making a fuss”.

The woman said she was stunned to hear the man take to the stand and deny the offending. She said this revealed the absence of any honesty in him.

“Without that, a man is a monster and can do monstrous things,” she told the trial.

At the Court of Appeal on Tuesday, Mr Paul Greene SC, for the appellant, said he was appealing the severity of the sentence, which he described as "too long".

Counsel said that the headline sentence of 14 years had been set "excessively high" before being mitigated to ten years by Judge Patricia Ryan.

Mr Greene said that in her victim impact statement the woman said the abuse began when she was a toddler and ended at "five or six years old".

Counsel said that if the abuse ended in August 1985, as per the victim impact statement, then the appellant would have only had eight months in adulthood at the time of the offences but added he was not basing his submission on that.

"The headline sentence is too high," said Mr Greene, outlining the main aspect of the appeal. He said that the importance of the age of his client at the time of the offending was "insufficiently taken into account in this sentence".

A second aspect, counsel said, was the "slew" of testimonials in his client's favour, including from family and an ex-employer who said he was "shocked" that the male had gone on trial for the offences.

Mr Greene said that the testimonials had "outstanding positivity" and referenced his client's generous nature, adding that he was considered a role model to his children and that he had a clean record for 37 years. He said his client's subsequent good character had not been fully taken into account.

Mr Greene said that the trial judge was not entitled to nominate a headline sentence of 14 years, before mitigation, unless consecutive sentencing was involved, which it was not.

Ms Diana Stuart BL, responding for the State, said that the trial judge dealt with the 56 offences, which each carried a maximum sentence of ten years, by applying a "global headline sentence" to take into account the number and nature of the charges, rather than apply consecutive sentences, which, she said, was an option.

Ms Stuart said that the trial judge had correctly taken into account the age of the male, among other factors, in her sentencing.

Mr Greene said: "I reiterate that the judge was not entitled to nominate the maximum sentence of 14 years in the absence of consecutive sentencing".

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham, appearing by video-link at the three-judge court, adjourned the case to Friday, October 9, for judgement.