Tipperary man who abused and raped daughters loses appeal against conviction
A Tipperary man serving 17 years for the sexual abuse and rape of his daughters has had an appeal against his conviction rejected.
The 54-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victims, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to 44 charges of sexually abusing his daughters, 37 counts of raping his eldest daughter, one charge each of anal rape of this girl and oral rape of her younger sister, and one charge of issuing a threat to kill his youngest daughters on dates between October 1994 and July 2012.
He was found guilty on 75 charges following a trial and was jailed for 17 years by Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan on May 18, 2015.
Ms Justice Heneghan described the man’s offences as “an exploitation of weak and defenceless children” and said his behaviour was “abhorrent and evil” in this “campaign of rape and sexual abuse” in which he “abused his power in the house."
She said the man showed no remorse and she praised the victims as “persons of very great courage and determination”.
Appealing the conviction, Dominic McGinn SC submitted to the three-judge Court of Appeal that the trial judge had erred by not directing the jury to acquit his client on a number of counts in circumstances where there was insufficient evidence. He also argued that the judge had erred by refusing to allow the defence to question one of the victims about her conduct during a previous trial.
Counsel said that the dates of the offences stated in the indictments did not match the evidence given by the victims in court. The appeal judges rejected that argument saying they had considered the evidence in some detail and were satisfied there was ample evidence before the jury to come to guilty verdicts on each count.
Regarding the second ground of appeal Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, delivering the judgment, explained that during the trial counsel for the man had attempted to question one of the victims about her behaviour during a previous trial for the same offences. Counsel suggested the woman was "all over the place", that she was "emotional" and "cried a lot" when giving evidence the first time.
He asked her if she got angry and said: "And then, at the end of the case, you stormed out and banged the door and made a holy show of yourself in front of the jury?"
Following that exchange the trial judge sent the jury out and ruled that counsel could not continue that line of questioning. In the appeal, Mr. McGinn said her conduct during the first trial was relevant because it related to her credibility and showed her to be a "consummate actress". He said counsel should have been allowed to question her about it.
Ms. Justice Kennedy said the demeanour of the woman during the previous trial "may have had modest relevance" but the appeal court would be "most reluctant to permit such a line of cross-examination." She added that the evidence "may have had some tangential relevance to her credibility but it was entirely within the discretion of the trial judge to disallow the line of questioning."
President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, rejected all grounds of appeal.