The Appeals Court decision was made today
A Carlow man jailed for abusing his niece (7) over a four year period has lost an appeal after hearing that his three-year jail term represented a "very lenient outcome".
The 48-year-old man, whose details cannot be published to protect the victim’s identity, pleaded guilty to eight counts of sexually assaulting his niece on dates between 1994 and 1998. His niece was aged seven when the offending commenced while he was aged 25.
Judge Michael O’Shea imposed eight concurrent five-year sentences with the last two years of each suspended on July 26, 2017.
The man lost an appeal against the severity of his sentence today, Monday, April 23, with the Court of Appeal holding that his net three-year jail term represented a very lenient outcome.
Giving judgment in the three-judge court, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said the offending took place on occasions the victim was visiting her grandmother, the man’s mother.
It involved him having her touch his penis, the touching of her vagina through clothes and other touching inside and outside of clothing.
The man, who was born in the UK, had no previous convictions and had suffered a stroke about three years ago. He’s unemployed and in receipt of disability allowance.
Mr Justice Mahon said the sentencing judge identified the systematic and exploitative nature of the offending as well as the breach of trust as aggravating factors.
The sentencing judge commented that the man acted as a predator and had robbed the injured party of her innocence and childhood.
The man had immediately accepted the truthfullness of the allegations, cooperated with gardai, apologised for his offending and displayed insight.
Arguably, Mr Justice Mahon said, whatever rehabilitation was likely to be achieved, had taken place over the 19-year-period between the last offence and prosecution.
Mr Justice Mahon said a net three-year custodial term represented a very lenient outcome.
Had the sentencing judge chosen to impose relatively low sentences, but on a consecutive basis, the final custodial term would have been significantly greater and there was no guarantee that such a sentence could have successfully been appealed, the judge said.
Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice John Hedigan, said a net three-year custodial term did not represent an error in principle and the court dismissed the appeal.