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Daughter of sex abuser suffered threats before and during trial

THE DAUGHTER of a man who was convicted of raping and sexually assaulting three of his children suffered intimidation before and during the trial, the Herald can reveal.

Undercurrents of intimidation surfaced before and during the trial of the 73-year-old man, who was convicted on Friday of 87 charges of rape and sexual assault on the three children.

The man's two daughters were then aged between four and 11, while his son was aged between three and six. He will be sentenced on October 4.

During the seven-week trial, one of the witnesses rang gardai just after giving her harrowing evidence to say that everything she had said was "lies" and she wanted to retract what she had said. Gardai, who went to her apartment, were satisfied she had been intimidated.

It was not the first time. Before the trial she had been approached in the street by a man claiming to represent her father. Despite being behind bars at Wheatfield, the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise, and Arbour Hill, he managed to get letters out to one of his daughters.

There were no threats in the letters -- but the message was clear. He could get to her, despite his incarceration, anywhere in the country.





Sobbed

The pressure on the victims, particularly one of the girls, was portrayed in the days when she gave evidence in the witness box. She was not allowed to give her evidence by video link as she was no longer a juvenile.

But gardai and members of the media who saw her before she took to the stand were very aware of the extent of her trauma. On another occasion, after one session of evidence, she curled up in the witness box and sobbed.

The jury of eight men and four women did not see these outpourings of emotional stress.

But on day one of the trial they too were visibly shocked.

It took the registrar 42 minutes to read out the 113 counts before the Central Criminal Court. There were 61 charges, 59 of rape and two of sexual assault in relation to the older girl.

These took place in a variety of places, including on a "red couch" in the family home, at a rented house in west Dublin, in a holiday home and at various hotels in the country.

One rape took place in the toilets of a McDonalds in Dublin city centre while another happened at Howth Harbour.





Caravan

The two sexual assaults happened on DART journeys to and from Howth.

In relation to the younger girl, now 18, he faced a total of 40 charges, 13 of rape and 27 of sexual assaults in a yellow van, a caravan and in the family bath. He also faced 12 charges, dating back to January 1997, of sexually assaulting his son.

The boy has been in care for some 10 years but in court he described his home life before that as " like living in hell".

Some of the offences against the girls were committed when they were in the care of the HSE. Both the accused and his wife helped them "escape" from HSE homes -- on one occasion picking them up by pre-arrangement on the M50.

One of the girls said she was barefoot on that occasion -- one of more than 100 times that she ran away. They "went on the run" for three months to a holiday home where some of the attacks took place, before they were apprehended.

The jury found him guilty of 87 of the 113 charges against him. They acquitted him of two counts of sexual assault and failed to agree on verdicts for another seven charges. He had pleaded not guilty to a total of 113 original charges.

cmallon@herald.ie