Man jailed for child cruelty after his 'sleeping porn' interest left daughter afraid to fall asleep

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Man Jailed For Child Cruelty After His 'Sleeping Porn' Interest Left Daughter Afraid To Fall Asleep Man Jailed For Child Cruelty After His 'Sleeping Porn' Interest Left Daughter Afraid To Fall Asleep
The man received a two and a half year sentence, with the last 18 months suspended.
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Gordon Deegan

A 48-year-old father has received a two and a half year prison sentence for child cruelty after a judge said he used his "defenceless daughter" for his own sexual gratification and satisfaction.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Eoin Garavan said the man had an "almost obsessive interest in sleeping porn", suspending the last 18 months of his sentence.

Judge Garavan said there was no physical contact between the father and his daughter, who was 15 at the time, during what he called “acts of sexual depravity” by the man.

In evidence, Garda Deirdre McLoughlin said the complainant - now 23-years-old - said her father carried out solo sex acts in front of her “on countless occasions”.

The girl said that when she stayed in her father's house when she was a teenager, he would stand at the end of her bed or at the door of her bedroom and carry out his solo sex act.

Bedroom lock

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The complainant told Garda her father would always come into the room between the hours of 2am-4am when she was in her bed.

The court heard the girl bought a lock to secure her bedroom door but returned one night to find it had been broken by her father. Garda McLoughlin added the complainant could not sleep at night.

Judge Garavan said the bedroom was the girl’s safe place and the accused had violated her privacy and youth.

The girl’s parents are separated, and she would spend a week at a time with each parent. Judge Garavan said the week with her father “must have been a terrifying experience”.

Garda McLoughlin also outlined two occasions when the accused carried out solo sex acts in his car while driving his daughter to and from work.

Garda McLoughlin said that during one incident, his daughter started to cry and turned on the radio and looked out the window so she could not see or hear anything. Garda McLoughlin added the complainant felt "trapped" in the car.

The garda said the accused - who has no previous convictions - stopped after his daughter told him during another car trip that he was disgusting and never to talk to her again.

'Terrified to sleep'

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Judge Garavan stated in a sense the accused had "trapped" his daughter in the car during his offending. “She couldn’t escape.”

The complainant was not in court for the sentencing hearing but in a victim impact statement read out on her behalf she said: “I was terrified to sleep for years, which resulted in me falling asleep in school and during classes.”

She added: “I feel like I have lost out on so many things because I lost my Dad. If I ever get married, who will walk me down the aisle or give me away? Or the milestones in my life that he has missed out on.

“It also made me feel so guilty for making my life’s Dad so much worse. It upsets me a lot to think about that, but I think if he cared about me at all, he wouldn’t of course have put me through this.

“I’m mad at him for making me feel guilty. I hope he gets all the help he needs.”

The accused pleaded guilty to one count of child cruelty contrary to the Children's Act and one count of engaging in offensive conduct of a sexual nature, contrary to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences Act) 2017.

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The child cruelty offence spanned a period between September 1st, 2014 and February 18th, 2017. The count of sexually offensive conduct relates to an incident in his car on April 28th, 2017.

Judge Garavan stated a custodial sentence is warranted due to the protracted nature of the child cruelty offence, adding that the accused “knew it was wrong and he persisted in it”.

The judge said the accused will be shunned by some in his local community and seen by others as a pariah, stating there has been a huge breach of trust and damage perpetrated on the woman, who, he said, should be praised for her "bravery and courage".

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The judge pointed out that the accused has pleaded guilty and has taken steps to rehabilitate himself, adding: “The biggest punishment for the accused is that he has damaged his daughter for her life and that is difficult for him and for her.”

Judge Garavan ordered that the offender's name not be published to protect the identity of the complainant.

Counsel for the accused, Pat Whyms BL, instructed by solicitor, Daragh Hassett, told the court that a Probation Report on his client shows that he is genuinely ashamed of his actions and is remorseful, and the risk of re-offending is not high.

Mr Whyms said his client has taken positive steps to address his offending and "has made great strides starting from a bad place".

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