herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Child rapist allowed to go to UK after gardai saw sex attack video

Garda: File photo
Garda: File photo

A CHILD rapist was able to travel to the UK and commit further offences after being interviewed by gardai here who had seen a video of him raping an 11-year-old girl.

Michael Smith (53) from Tipperary groomed, raped and sexually assaulted the girl, who he considered to be his daughter, for 10 years before going to the UK where he was jailed for grooming and sexually abusing a teenage girl he meet through a social media site.

The Central Criminal Court heard that the Irish victim went to gardai about the abuse in 2004 and a follow-up search uncovered a recording of him raping the child when she was 11. Smith was interviewed voluntarily and went to England shortly afterwards.

assault

Smith, previously of Maplewood Way, Tallaght, pleaded guilty to nine counts of rape, two counts of oral rape, one count of possession of child pornography and assault causing harm of Michelle Smith at addresses in Rathmines, Tallaght and Cabra on dates between 1994 and 2004.

Sergeant Paul Maher revealed that Smith, who has no previous convictions here, was jailed in England for engaging in sexual activity with a child, inciting a child to engage in sex and possessing indecent material.

The Irish victim, who has waived her right to anonymity, believed that Smith was her father at the time of the abuse.

Sgt Maher told Caroline Cummings BL, prosecuting, that the victim reported her father's abuse in March 2004, when she was 17 years old.

She said she had been continuously sexually abused by him from the age of eight. Smith moved between various Dublin residences over the years and would have regular sex with his victim at these addresses.

The victim told gardai she thought the sex was normal and that Smith had, on several occasions, recorded the abuse on a camcorder.

Sgt Maher said the victim also told him that Smith punched her in the face, slammed her head into a wall and slapped her till she wet herself out of fright on one occasion at the Maplewood Way address.

Following the victim's complaint to gardai in 2004, a search warrant for Smith's home and workplace was obtained and cassettes were recovered with recordings of the victim. Sgt Maher told Ms Cummings that one recording depicted Smith having sex with the victim when she was 11 years old.

The victim revealed in a statement, read out in court, that nobody knew about the abuse and a lot of people had liked Smith.

predator

"Anyone can be a predator and you'd never know unless the victim speaks up," she said. "I find it hard to sleep at night with all the thoughts, questions and memories in my head".

Describing a lonely and terrified childhood, she said: "This was not a one-off thing that left after-affects. I don't have a life. He raised me to be when he needed me to be. This is all I know."

Sgt Maher said Smith left Ireland shortly after he had been interviewed voluntarily by gardai. English authorities stopped Smith in 2008 with a 15-year-old girl, whom he had groomed online for sex by posing as an older teenage boy about three years previously.

He was also caught with over 19,000 images of child pornography.

Mr Justice Moran remanded Smith in custody until sentence finalisation on Friday.

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