Man convicted of 72 counts of abusing stepdaughter loses appeal

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A man who began abusing his daughter-in-law before her First Communion lost an appeal against his 10-year sentence.

The 73-year-old, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, was convicted by the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of 72 counts of indecent assault on various dates between October 31, 1973 and August 24, 1979.

He was 25 years old and the child was six when the attacks began.

Fear and anxiety

Upon the accused’s conviction in May 2019, Judge Elma Sheahan said it was difficult to exaggerate the levels of fear and anxiety experienced by a child subjected to this level of abuse.

The defendant then lost an appeal against the conviction.

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal rejected the attorney’s arguments that the trial judge erred when she imposed consecutive two-year sentences on seven counts.

It was also argued that the trial judge’s charge to the jury was unbalanced.

But Judge John Edwards said the three-judge tribunal had “not hesitated” to express its complete disagreement with the appellant’s grounds of appeal.

First abuse

The first case of abuse occurred before the victim’s First Communion when she was seven years old.

The accused had a long-standing relationship with the victim’s mother and although they were never married, he was in fact her stepfather. The abuse ended when the victim was about 13 years old.

His only other previous convictions were for drunk driving.

Judge Sheahan said the attacks had a devastating effect on the woman, who believed the abuse also affected her ability to be a mother to her own children.

The judge noted that the maximum penalty for indecent assault had been set at two years at the time of the offense. She said she believed that this range of sentences did not match the seriousness of the offense and that she would take the exceptional step of imposing consecutive sentences.

Noting the weakening of a good work history and good family life in recent years, Judge Sheahan has imposed consecutive 14-year sentences on a number of counts.

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She then imposed a final sentence of 10 years.

In her victim impact statement, which was read in court, the woman said she had to flee Dublin at the age of 16 due to the mistreatment by the man.

She said: “I can say that 200% I was never a child” because her childhood was taken away from her.

She said the abuse had “marked me forever and will never go away.”


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