A father who sexually assaulted his daughter has thanked her for coming forward to reveal what he did.
The 46-year-old was jailed for five years at Letterkenny Circuit Court for sexually assaulting his daughter when she was 10 and 11-years-old at the family home in Donegal.
His daughter said the assaults happened every two or three days until her first year in secondary school.
The father of four, who cannot be identified to protect the identity of his daughter, said his children had been raised in a sexually tolerant household and that he had watched pornography with his daughter.
The man, who now lives outside the county, pleaded guilty to seven counts of sexual assault and one count of defilement between July 2006 and September 2007.
The court heard that the crimes were carried out when the man entered his daughter’s bedroom while his wife was out with friends. On one occasion he gave his wife money to go out before he sexually assaulted his daughter. The court heard that he had drunk alcohol to get “Dutch courage” before he carried out the assaults. His daughter attempted to fight him off during the assaults but was unable to. The assaults ended after a failed attempt by the man to have full sexual intercourse with his daughter when she kicked him off her.
In a victim impact statement, his daughter, now aged 16, said she visits a psychologist once a week, suffers bad dreams, can’t eat or sleep and has panic attacks. “I cry and I am up and down with my emotions. I don’t talk to people socially and I don’t have a social life. I have some very bad days,” she said. The teenager is taking medication for depression and sleeping tablets. She said she does not want to have any contact with her father and was upset when he sent a Christmas card to the family last year. The man still has contact with his other children.
Sgt Gerry Lee told the court the abuse emerged after the daughter failed to obey a curfew and told her mother that she had been sexually assaulted by her father. When confronted by his wife the man admitted “trying it on” with their daughter. The father contacted gardaí and admitted sexually assaulting his daughter. He claimed to have a very poor memory of the offences due to alcohol and an illness that he is being treated for.
He told gardaí that his daughter was “an honest girl and if she said it happened, it happened”.
Giving evidence he said he feels very guilty for the hardship he has put his family and daughter through. He said he wanted to thank his daughter for having the courage to contact the gardaí. “I am really, really sorry,” he said. “No matter how many times I apologise I can never put right what I have done. I accept completely my own responsibility.”
The court heard the unemployed man had endured a difficult childhood and had been the victim of sexual abuse. He has also had an alcohol problem which he is dealing with through counselling.
Judge John O’Hagan said the case was a very distressing one and the details had been difficult to listen to in court in the knowledge that it involved a father and a daughter.
What the man had subjected his daughter to must have been a terrible experience, he said. “I can’t imagine what effect this must have had on a ten or 11-year-old girl. It beggars belief and description.”
The judge sentenced the man to five years in prison and placed him on the sex offenders register for life.