A man who strangled an ex-girlfriend to death in his native country has been given a 15-year sentence for continually beating and twice raping his 12-year-old stepdaughter.
The 32- year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to a number of charges of child cruelty which involved the assault of a child, assault causing harm, sexual assault and rape on dates between September 2019 and May 2020.
Last July, a jury convicted him on one charge of assault causing harm, six charges of child cruelty involving assault, three charges of sexual assault and two charges or rape. The man has been on remand in custody since June 2020.
On Friday, Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy noted the effect the offending had on the previously happy and bubbly child. She said despite being in a foster family where she is loved and happy, the child still has immense fear of her stepfather finding her.
The court heard the man had told the child he would find her and kill her if he went to jail.
She noted the man had a history of violent offending and had not abided by the conditions of his early release from a ten-year sentence in his native country which required him to remain there until 2022.
She said he had not observed that and instead was in Ireland “laying waste” to the girl's young life.
Ms Justice Murphy noted there had been little offered in mitigation, and he maintains his innocence. She took into account that as a non-Irish citizen time in custody will be harder for him.
She also took into account that he had grown up in institutional care which the court could conclude had a damaging effect and that uncontrollable anger appeared to be a feature of his offending.
The judge said he was a “dangerous young man” who was physically powerful and it was in his and societies interest that he address his anger issues.
She imposed a 15-year sentence and said she would consider suspending the final two years if he availed of anger management treatment while in prison and refrain from contacting the victim in perpetuity.
Geraldine Small BL, prosecuting, asked that a condition that he leave the jurisdiction on release be added.
Ms Justice Murphy said she was not inclined to dump offenders on another jurisdiction but would consider post release supervision and asked if there would be contact between the jurisdictions, so they would be notified if he returned home.
She adjourned the matter of the suspension and its conditions for three weeks to allow the man’s legal team to speak to him and see what treatment was available in prison.
At the sentence hearing earlier this month, the court heard the accused man served a ten-year term in his native country after he was convicted of killing his former girlfriend and was released from prison on condition that he not leave his home country until January 2022.
He came to Co Cork in 2019, met the child’s mother and married her two months later. The child had not met the man as she was away with her father at the time and was introduced to him for the first time at the end of summer 2019 when he had moved into the family home she shared with her mother.
Detective Garda Sheena Dowling of the Divisional Protective Services Unit in Cork told Lorcan Staines SC, prosecuting that gardaí were called to the family home in May 2020 after a neighbour alerted them to a domestic incident there.
On arrival officers noticed that the child had a cut and bruising to the bridge of her nose and had bruised eyes. Her mother, the accused and the child all claimed that she had sustained the injuries after she had fallen down the stairs.
Gardaí returned to the house that same evening to check on the welfare of the child and one officer spoke to the child alone in the kitchen.
The teenager again re-iterated that she had hurt herself having fallen down the stairs but later rolled up the sleeve of a jumper to reveal a large bruise to her arm.
She admitted the accused man had hurt her and showed the garda further bruising. The girl was taken from the home that evening and put in emergency care. She has not returned since and is now living with an adoptive family.
The garda told Mr Staines that the child was taken to a garda station where she was questioned by specialist garda interviewers. She initially only spoke of a number of incidents of being beaten by the man but later passed a note to say that she had also been sexually abused.
She was interviewed a second time during which she disclosed three episodes of sexual assault and two incidents of rape by the accused in April 2020.
In her victim impact statement the child thanked the gardai who had come to rescue her and all those who had helped her. “My parents didn’t protect me like they should have,” the girl stated.