The Court of Appeal has dismissed the sentence appeal of a man jailed for abusing his partner’s 13-year-old daughter, whom he claimed had initiated sexual contact due to hormonal urges.
The Tipperary man had argued that the sentencing judge had put too much weight on this blame that he apportioned to the child.
The 46-year-old, who cannot be named to protect the girl's identity, had pleaded guilty to defilement and sexual exploitation of a child and three charges of sexual assault on dates between September 2014 and August 2015. He had six previous convictions, including for sexual assault from 1993.
The Central Criminal Court heard last year that he had been in a relationship with the girl's mother at the time.
The girl told gardai that she had seen the man as a father figure initially, but that he began kissing her while he was in her family home. She said the man later started to sexualise his text messages to her and that the abuse had escalated.
Later analysis of his phone confirmed that he had sent such text messages to the girl.
She told the sentencing court that she “grew to love and trust” the man. She said he shocked her one day when he met her on the stairs, grabbed her by the hand and kissed her on the lips.
The teenager said that, as time went on, there was more kissing between them, which made her “feel special inside”. She revealed that she thought it was normal to feel love in this way.
She said it clicked with her that this wasn't normal when she heard her friends talk about their relationships with their fathers. The girl said she began to feel sad and lonely and would pretend to be sick to stay off school.
She said when she moved to another relative's home, she felt a different kind of love that was normal.
The girl told the court she was not a victim anymore, that she was a survivor and wouldn’t let the abuse take over her life. Addressing the man, she said she could never forgive him for ruining her early teenage years, but that she was finally closing this chapter in her life.
Her abuser had claimed that the incidents had happened because of the girl's hormonal urges.
Mr Justice White imposed a nine-year sentence with the final two years suspended.
The abuser appealed that sentence to the Court of Appeal earlier this month, submitting that the judge had attached undue weight to his blaming of the child for initiating sexual contact.
Justice Isobel Kennedy, sitting with Court President Justice George Birmingham, and Justice Una Ni Raifeartaigh delivered judgment on Monday, June 29.
They described the sentence as proportionate, just and fair, and dismissed the appeal.