Man gets 18 months for sexually abusing young step daughter

A man who sexually abused his stepdaughter when she was a young teenager has been jailed for 18 months.

Philip Dempsey (aged 48) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to three counts of sexual assault at the family home on Collins Avenue West, Donnycarney between January 2000 and March 2003. He has no previous convictions.

The now 23-year-old woman earlier told the court that her childhood was taken from her by her step-father who sexually abused her three times when she was aged 13.

The court heard that Dempsey worked as a driving instructor but quit his job after being charged with the offences. He is now engaging with the Forensic Psychological Services, formerly the Granada Institute.

Karen O'Connor BL, prosecuting, said the victim had opted to waive the protection of the court meaning that Dempsey can be publicly named.

Judge Desmond Hogan described the case as a difficult sentence to deal with. He noted that although these were serious crimes, they were not at the highest range for crimes of their kind.

He said the aggravating factors included Dempsey’s “severe breach of trust” in his position in the house and the young age of the victim. He added that he was “very cognisant” that the victim still suffered from the abuse and that Dempsey’s offending had split the family.

The judge took into account the mitigating factors, including Dempsey’s immediate and voluntary admissions to gardai and his letter of apology to the victim.

Judge Hogan said that while the victim may have a certain opinion of this letter, “the greatest form of apology (Dempsey) could make is his guilty plea and he made that guilty plea in early course.”

He accepted testimonials handed in on behalf of Dempsey’s family and acknowledged his involvement in charity races.

He further noted that the victim’s mother, Dempsey’s wife, had taken him back into the family home without any objection by the HSE. He added that to have been placed on the sex offenders register was a “penalty in itself.”

He imposed a three-year sentence with the final 18 months suspended for three years on condition that Dempsey undergoes one year Probation Service supervision post release.

Judge Hogan also directed that Dempsey engage in the Building Better Lives counselling programme either in custody or in the community when he gets out of jail.

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