Anger in Dail over incest sentence

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The Independent Online
A SEVEN-YEAR jail term imposed on a man who brutally beat and raped his daughter over a 17-year period caused uproar in the Dail last night as MPs protesting at the leniency of the sentence were ruled out of order.

The daughter, now 27, had her fingers smashed with a hammer. Her father also blinded her in one eye by kicking her head with his steel-toecapped boots. The assaults began when the girl was 10 and led to her having a child by her father when she was 15.

Agnes Reddy, a police officer, whose suspicions uncovered the assaults, told the Central Criminal Court in Dublin that the girl had been hospitalised at least seven times. Her father, who lived at Kilkenny and had a history of alcohol abuse, had broken her ribs with a steel bar, broken her nose and cut her head with a broken bottle. She also suffered broken limbs, concussion and bruising.

In hospital, the girl repeatedly said her injuries were caused by accidents such as falling down stairs. Her mother, a victim of assaults herself, had been too terrified to report them and had lied about her daughter's injuries.

The 48-year-old man pleaded guilty to six specimen charges out of 56 alleging rape, incest and assault between 1976 and 1991. He was given the maximum sentence of seven years for rape and incest, minus six months for time already spent in custody, with five years for causing actual bodily harm to run concurrently.

The case has caused widespread alarm in Ireland, not least because of the apparent failure of medical and social services to recognise what was happening.

The girl had contacted a doctor who called in the parents, but her father walked out of the meeting. A social worker she spoke to while in hospital reportedly told her it was a family matter and did not intervene. During their investigation, police interviewed five doctors at different hospitals.

Olive Braiden, director of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, condemned the seven-year maximum sentence for incest as appalling and echoed media calls for better training for social workers in recognising incest problems.