State ‘considering its position’ after father’s conviction for sexually assaulting daughter in bed was overturned
The state is “reviewing its position” after a 40-year-old father who denied “intentionally” sexually assaulting his nine-year-old daughter while she slept in bed had his conviction overturned on appeal.
The man had pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting the girl between January 1, 2017 and April 30, 2017 at their home. However, he was found guilty by a jury following a trial in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court and sentenced to three years and four months’ imprisonment.
The sentencing court heard that when the man was arrested and questioned about his daughter’s allegations, he said he could not remember anything.
In handing down her sentence, Judge Elma Sheahan noted that the man “absolutely denied what she said she had done” and insisted the girl said the next day that he had only put on his hands only on the front and back of his pajamas.
Although he “deeply regretted having his daughter in his bed”, she said, he “does not accept the verdict of the jury”.
The man later appealed the conviction on the grounds that an intent to assault had not been established at trial and that the judge should have ordered the jury to return a ‘not guilty’ verdict after the prosecution closed his case.
His lawyers, in their submissions to the Court of Appeal, also criticized Judge Sheahan for telling the jury that they could convict solely on the plaintiff’s evidence and did not need corroboration.
In a judgment delivered today by the President of the Court, Judge George Birmingham, sitting with Judge Patrick McCarthy and Judge Isobel Kennedy, the three-judge tribunal overturned the man’s sexual assault conviction, contrary to in section 2 of the Criminal Law (Rape Amendment) Act 1990.
The trial judge, Judge Birmingham noted, had made it clear to the jury that “unless they were satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was awake and not asleep, he was entitled to an acquittal. “.
The question of whether the defendant was asleep or awake at the time was “of such central importance in the context of the trial” that “the jury needed additional evidentiary assistance on this subject”, continued the judge.
“The fact that this did not happen makes us doubt that the verdict can be considered safe.
“Under these circumstances, we feel compelled to overturn the conviction.”
On the issue of corroboration, Judge Birmingham said the court rejected this ground of appeal.
He noted that although the trial judge “did not issue a corroboration warning as such…she explained what corroboration was and, in effect, told the jury that there was no had no corroboration”.
“She observed that this was not unusual in cases of this nature, because by its nature sexual activity tends to occur in private and not in public,” he continued.
After the judgment was delivered, Kate Egan BL, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, asked the court for an adjournment to give the state time “to consider its position”.
The case was adjourned for a week and the man was released on bail on the condition that he not contact the complainant.
During her trial last May, the court was told the girl had disclosed the alleged abuse around six months after the incident.
She said she went to bed around 1 a.m. and woke up to find her father had put his hands on her buttocks and touched her private parts.
After the guilty verdict was delivered, the man’s daughter – who was now 13 – told the court via a victim impact statement that her father had taken away part of her childhood that she said she didn’t. could ever recover.
“It’s unforgivable and unimaginable,” she said. “He should have protected me, taken care of me and looked after me, but he wasn’t.”
She also said her father showed “no remorse” for his actions and even claimed she lied.
“Making me more upset and making everything more difficult for me, he didn’t take responsibility for his actions,” she added.
“Today, justice has been served. I just hope that I will close this chapter of my life and move on.
Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, defending, said his client recognized the extreme injury he had caused his daughter and understood “things he should have done that he didn’t do and that contributed to his pain”.
The lawyer said his client “maintains that he did not do this intentionally”.
“He is absolutely determined to try and rebuild the relationship with his daughter. It is his number one priority in his life,” Mr Ó Lideadha said.