Woman names rapist nephew

A 75-year-old woman whose nephew was jailed for 14 years earlier this week for violently raping her has waived her right to anonymity to have him named.

Christopher Ward (aged 51) was convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury last month of the rape and sexual assault of his aunt, Kathleen Ward, at her Dundalk home on March 13, 2011 following an eight-day trial.

Mrs Ward, a widow, has indicated since the sentence was imposed yesterday that she wishes to waive her right to anonymity.

Mr Ward, who has a previous address in Birmingham, England, was unlawfully at large from Hatfield Prison in the UK at the time of the rape.

He was serving an 11-year sentence for robbery and wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm. He had failed to return from day release in January 2011.

Ward has 92 previous convictions for offences in the UK, where he grew up, including burglary, false imprisonment, road traffic offences, escape from lawful custody and assault.

He has one previous conviction for sex with a minor committed when he was a teenager.

Ward raped his aunt on her bed after tearing off the elderly woman’s clothes during a four-hour ordeal which began when she let him in for a cup of tea. She sustained substantial injuries and had difficulty walking for some time.

Mr Justice George Birmingham said the woman had understandably felt she was safe letting her nephew in for a cup of tea. “Sadly she could not have been more wrong,” he said.

He noted Ward has not expressed any “regret, apology or remorse” for the offence.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the aggravating factors include the vulnerability of the victim, the disparity in physical strength, the injuries sustained by the woman and the effect the offence had on her. He imposed a 14 years sentence for the rape and a concurrent three and a half years for the sexual assault.

In her victim impact statement, Mrs Ward outlined how she no longer trusts men and felt so ashamed by what had happened that she wanted to die.

She said her world turned upside down when Ward raped her and she no longer feels safe in her own home. She said feels she will never get over it and has no quality of life.

She said the only thing Ward never took from her was her belief in God.

Ward returned to the UK following the rape where he was arrested in June 2011 and returned to prison to complete his sentence.

He was interviewed in prison by gardaí and claimed there had been “a moment of moral weakness” between him and his aunt and the sex was consensual.

Ward was extradited to Ireland on completion of his sentence in 2012 and has been in custody in Ireland since.

Michael Delaney SC, prosecuting, said the view of the Director of Public Prosecutions was that the offences were on the higher end of the scale.

Eoin Lawlor BL, defending, said the accused man is single with no children and no drug addictions. He has been in custody on this offence for two years.

Detective Inspector Patrick Marry told Michael Delaney SC, prosecuting, that Mrs Ward had met her nephew on one previous occasion when he called to her house about one week prior to the rape and they had a cup of tea. She had said it was a normal innocuous visit.

On the morning of March 13, 2011 the woman had risen and dressed at 7am when she heard her doorbell ringing. She saw it was her nephew and invited him in for a cup of tea.

As she made a cup of tea in the kitchen Ward came up behind her and put his hand over her mouth and a knife to her throat. He threatened her and dragged her into the sitting room where he pulled off her bottom clothes as she struggled.

Still holding the knife he brought her to the bedroom where he tore off her top and cardigan before raping her on the bed.

Before he left four hours later at 10.45am he threatened her, warning her not to say anything.

The woman phoned relatives who persuaded her to contact gardaí. She had already taken a shower because she felt dirty.

Det Insp Marry said Ward had been given day release in January 2011 from a sentence he was serving but he failed to return to prison and was deemed to have absconded.

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